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.
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."