Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with visiting US Secretary of
Defense Leon Panetta on Monday, thanking him and US President Barack
Obama for "strengthening the alliance and cooperation" between Israel
and the US.
Netanyahu reiterated his belief that peace can only
be achieved "through direct negotiations between the parties." He called
on Panetta to encourage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
to enter direct negotiations without preconditions, in accordance with
the Quartet's initiative to re-start peace talks.
The prime minister stated that "security and recognition" are the foundation of negotiations.RELATED:
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Panetta emphasized Washington's "continuing commitment to the security of Israel."
He added: "We have been strong allies, we have been strong partners. We
have always made a commitment to do everything we can to support the
security of Israel and as the secretary of defense, I intend to continue
that commitment. I think it's important for us to say to this region
that when it comes to the difficult issues we face we stand together to
try to confront our difficult and common challenges."
Panetta also met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Abbas on Monday and was scheduled to travel to Egypt on Tuesday.