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PM: You should ask Abbas why he refuses to negotiate
By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND JPOST.COM STAFF
12/22/2012
In separate interviews aired simultaneously on Channel 10 and 2, Netanyahu says he will continue building in J'lem "because it is our right," says recent moves are response to PA status upgrade at UN, not connected to elections.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pointed his finger at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, when asked about the peace process in an interview with Channel 2 aired on Saturday night.

When asked whether he will pursue peace, Netanyahu said "if we have a partner for peace." However, when asked whether Israel has a partner for peace in Abbas, Netanyahu responded: "You should ask him, why does he refuse to negotiate?"

Netanyahu also said that Israel will build in Jerusalem, "because it is our right."

He noted that the reason for the recent approvals of building plans over the Green Line were in response to the Palestinian status upgrade at the United Nations General Assembly, and were not connected to the upcoming elections.

In reference to the building plans, Netanyahu declared that "The Western Wall is not occupied territory, and I don't care what the United Nations says."

"We are living in the Jewish State," the prime minister said, and "The capital of the Jewish state, for 3,000 years, has been Jerusalem. I want to say it clearly."

"On election day, Israeli citizens will send a message," he continued, "not only domestically but also to the international community."

"Do you know who will be paying attention to the election results?," Netanyahu added, "[Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah, [and Hamas chief Khaled] Mashaal, they'll wait for polls to close and for results to be publicized. And they'll want to know if the prime minister was strengthened or weakened."

Turning to Iran, the prime minister said that he speaks with foreign leaders on the danger of the Iranian nuclear program every day. "We are in a pro-longed fight for our existence," he added.

In a separate interview aired simultaneously on Channel 10, Netanyahu lauded his government's economic achievements. When pressed on issues of the cost of living, particularly housing, Netanyahu blamed governmental partner Shas for rising housing prices, saying he would retain control of the influential Construction and Housing Ministry in the next Knesset.

"I don't have the [Construction and] Housing Ministry," Netanyahu said. "I have agreed with (Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor) Liberman. We will take back the ministry (in the next Knesset)." Shas's Ariel Attias is the current housing minister.

However, Netanyahu said that the government had "turned around" the education system, as well as decreasing mobile phone costs and taxes. "You can say what you want," he told the Channel 10 interviewers, "but we did here was an economic miracle," he said, pointing to Europe for comparison.

Addressing the IDF's recent Operation Pillar of Defense, the prime minister said that Israel had dealt Gaza "a very harsh blow," noting that it had destroyed almost all of the long-range rockets in the Strip. However, he warned that the army was prepared to deal Hamas an even harsher blow. 
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