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Netanyahu: Abbas must say he accepts ‘the Jewish state’

June 24, 2011 01:50

There will be no more subdivisions of Israel, no ‘sub-state’ for Arabs in Negev or Galilee, PM declares at Presidential Conference.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dark 311 (R). (photo credit:Avi Ohayon / GPO)

On the eve of a meeting of Quartet envoys in Brussels to review ways to restart the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday night that the end to the conflict will begin with the Palestinian leaders uttering six simple words: “I will accept the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu, in a speech to the closing session of the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, said that peace has eluded the sides for 90 years because the Palestinians never accepted Israel’s existence in the region, within any borders.

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His comments came amid Israeli efforts to get a clear Palestinian statement about Israel as a Jewish state front-loaded into any formula on restarting negotiations that might mention the baseline for talks as the 1967 lines, with mutual agreed swaps.

Noting that he had accepted the idea of a Palestinian state in his Bar Ilan speech in 2009, Netanyahu said, “Now I say that [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas must do what I did two years ago: he must stand up to his people and say, ‘I will accept the Jewish state.’” Referring to frequent Palestinian comments that Israel can “call itself whatever it wants,” Netanyahu stressed that the issue was not over what it calls itself, but rather over what it is.

“They can call their state Palestine or Arafatland,” Netanyahu said. “I’m not talking about what they call it; but what it is. For them, it is the nation state of the Palestinian people. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. This means that the Palestinians go there, and Jews come here.”

Netanyahu said this in no way will impinge upon the rights of Arab citizens in Israel, but that a two-state solution must end any hope of further subdividing the Jewish state and calls for a “sub-state” for Arabs in the Negev or Galilee.

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At a speech later in the evening to the World Zionist Organization, Netanyahu said that Theodor Herzl and the Zionist vision spoke of settlement and development of the Jewish state in all parts of Israel.

“We are settling and developing the land – it is possible to see towns in Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim and Gush Etzion. But we are also obligated to develop all parts of the country – the Galilee and the Negev,” he said, using terminology that sounded like an effort to de-emphasize construction in the settlements.
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