Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived in Rome on Tuesday to urge Italy and
the US to continue to impose sanctions against Iran as the best path to
peacefully disarm Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.
“We must ensure that
Iran won’t have nuclear weapons capabilities and that this can be achieved
peacefully,” Netanyahu told his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta during a
Tuesday night meeting in Rome.
He was likely to repeat this message in his meeting Wednesday with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The two men were also
to discuss the Israeli Palestinian peace process.
“Iran says it wants a deal
that will allow for civilian nuclear energy, but that is not the real issue,”
Netanyahu said Tuesday night.
“Many countries in Europe, North America, Asia, have
nuclear power programs with centrifuges or plutonium,” he said. “The only reason
Iran has insisted on centrifuges and plutonium is to allow it to produce enough
material for a nuclear bomb.” The United Nations Security Council has passed
resolutions, including one in 2010, that called on Iran to dismantle its
centrifuges and to stop the production of plutonium, Netanyahu said.
Iran retains these capabilities, it can move quickly to produce a [nuclear]
bomb,” Netanyahu said. “We can’t allow them to do this.”
and desire for peace would be seriously impacted if Iran can produce a nuclear
weapon, Netanyahu said.
Last week’s six-party talks in Geneva between
Iran and the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom opened
the door to the possibility of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program.
Another round of talks is to be held in Geneva on November 7 and 8.
is hopeful that the talks will result in the lifting of some of the sanctions
against it, if it offers to curb but not eliminate its uranium enrichment
Iran is reaching out to its old oil buyers and is ready to cut
prices if Western sanctions against it are eased, promising a battle for market
share in a world less hungry for oil than when sanctions were
The Islamic republic’s crude exports more than halved after the
European Union and United States, which accuse Tehran of seeking nuclear
weapons, tightened sanctions in mid-2012, cutting its budget revenues by at
least $35 billion annually.
“The Iranians are calling around already
saying let’s talk.... You have to be careful, of course, but there is no law
against talking,” said a highlevel oil trader, whose company is among many that
stopped buying Iran’s oil because of sanctions.
But as Netanyahu worked
on the Iranian issue in Rome, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
traveled in Europe as well to urge its leaders to pressure Israel to halt West
Bank settlement activity. On Tuesday he continued his visit to
Israel has insisted that it will continue to build in the West
Bank settlements. But separately, as a gesture to Abbas, it is preparing to
release a second group of Palestinian prisoners who have been held in Israeli
jails for terror activity since before the approval of the 1993 Oslo
Early Tuesday morning the IDF killed an Islamic Jihad member who
it alleged was behind a 2012 Tel Aviv bus bomb.
Defense Minister Moshe
Ya’alon said that the current wave of terror was not likely to lead to a delay
or cancellation of the release of Palestinian security prisoners as part of
ongoing peace talks with the Palestinians.
“As long as the process is
ongoing, we are obligated to free the pre-Oslo prisoners. I expect that we will
go forward with the next prisoner release,” Ya’alon stated.
the peace process Qatar agreed on Monday to give $150 million in debt relief to
the Palestinian Authority as the pace of direct negotiations between Israel and
the Palestinians intensified.
Since direct talk resumed in July, Israelis
and Palestinians have held 13 serious meetings, three of which occurred over the
last four days, Kerry told reporters at a joint press conference in Paris with
Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Atiyah.
“The pace [of the talks] has
intensified. All the core issues are on the table, and they [the Israelis and
Palestinians] have been meeting with increased intensity,” Kerry
Economic support is an important part of the peace process, Kerry
told reporters in Paris, as he expressed confidence that other Arab countries
would follow Qatar’s example.
But, he cautioned, a finalstatus agreement
for a twostate solution is dependent on the ability of the two parties to make
“key decisions” and “reasonable compromises.”
“That includes taking all
of the steps that are necessary to create a positive atmosphere for the
negotiations,” Kerry said.
He chided both the Israelis and the
Palestinians and reminded them that a conducive atmosphere was one of the key
things they had agreed to abide by for the duration of the nine-month peace
Kerry’s remarks come at a time when, in spite of the
continuation of the talks, Palestinians and Israelis have both acted in ways
that antagonized the other and have continued to exchange harsh words in
At the press conference, however, Kerry accentuated the positive.
He said he was pleased with the Id al-Adha wishes that Netanyahu issued in
advance of the Palestinian holiday.
Netanyahu has clarified that Israel
is committed to maintaining the status quo in holy places, Kerry
“He [Netanyahu] made it clear that the hand of Israel is extended
to the Palestinian people in hopes of peace,” Kerry said.
the Arab League and its offer through the Arab Peace Initiative to normalize
relations between Israel and 57 nations, of which 35 are Muslim and 22 Arab. He
thanked the Palestinian Authority as well as Abbas for their support of the
The Israeli and Palestinian leaders have displayed courage
in entering and remaining in the peace process, Kerry said. They understand what
is at stake, and they have taken risks in order to bring both parties to the
table, he stated.
A two-state solution that offers a just and lasting
peace is achievable, Kerry said, and added that the opportunity for peace was
just over the horizon.
“Two proud peoples deserve the opportunity to
realize their legitimate aspirations, their security, and their freedom, and
their future,” Kerry said.
Atiyah told reporters that a two-state
solution would be based on the pre-1967 borders.
He added that the
division that exists between Gaza and the West Bank does not help the peace
process. A way has to be found to open the crossing points in and out of Gaza,
“Isolating Gaza won’t help the peace process,” he
Atiyah said he was concerned by Israel’s statements that harm the
peace process as well as its actions, such as settlement expansion and the
destruction of Palestinian homes and Beduin communities.
the Israeli flag, we consider this to be a transgression that we cannot possibly
accept, not in the Arab world or the Islamic world. Therefore, we urge that the
conducive environment for the negotiations be created,” said
Reuters contributed to this report.