PM to Palestinians: Stop squabbling, start talking

During appearance with Polish counterpart in Warsaw, Netanyahu said he hopes to see "historic compromise," renewed talks.

Bibi and Turk prime minister (photo credit: GPO)
Bibi and Turk prime minister
(photo credit: GPO)
The Palestinians must stop negotiating about talking and start peace talks immediately, urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu while in Warsaw on Wednesday.
“I think it is time to stop squabbling over preconditions. I think it’s time to stop negotiating about the negotiations. I think we have to start peace talks immediately,” Netanyahu said during a joint press conference with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
He spoke in the midst of a renewed push by United States Secretary of State John Kerry to resume direct Israeli-Palestinian talks that have been largely frozen since December 2008.
Kerry phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday to assure him that he was continuing to push for renewed talks.
Abbas reiterated the demand that Israel must freeze West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
He also asked that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners in its jails.
Netanyahu, however, has insisted that talks should be held without preconditions. Tusk joined Netanyahu in that call, in a joint statement on principles of understanding, with respect to regional issues that was publicized by Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office.
Netanyahu said, “My goal is to see a historic compromise that ends the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians once and for all.”
“This will entail a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, with ironclad security arrangements for Israel – recognition, security, demilitarization,” Netanyahu said.
“I believe that these are the elements for peace. I don’t pose them as preconditions for negotiations. I look forward to enter those negotiations without preconditions without delay. I am ready for such a peace. I hope the Palestinians are ready too,” he said.
Both he and Tusk spoke of their support for Kerry’s efforts.
“During the meeting today we strongly supported Israel’s and other countries’ work to solve the conflict with the Palestinians,” Tusk said. “We have a very good opinion on [Kerry’s] initiative and our Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorki expressed our support in this initiative,” Tusk said.
The joint Israeli-Polish statement of understanding was released to the media in advance of the trip, before Netanyahu had seen it.
It included a line, which stated that, “Unilateral steps by either party are counterproductive to achieving a sustainable lasting peace.” According to an Israeli official, Netanyahu would have phrased that line differently.
But the official clarified that contrary to media reports, Netanyahu had not backtracked from the statement, nor was it changed.
The stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks was not the only topic between the two men. They spoke of the dangers of the Syrian civil war and Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“Sanctions alone will not be enough. They must be coupled with a credible military threat,” Netanyahu said.
He added that he believed the upcoming elections would stop Iran for its nuclear pursuit or lessen the danger.
Netanyahu also urged the European Union to officially define and list Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
“If Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization, I don’t know what a terrorist organization is, but it’s not just an Israeli problem. Hezbollah has murdered innocent civilians on European soil. And Europe cannot, must not, be indifferent to this,” Netanyahu said.
He also spoke of the deep friendship and history between Poland and the Jewish people as well as personally between him and Tusk.
Netanyahu noted that his father was born in Warsaw in 1910 and that his grandfather taught there as the head of Hebrew studies at a preeminent Jewish school.
“Warsaw was a great center of Jewish learning and Jewish culture and Jewish life. The histories of our two people are intertwined,” Netanyahu said.
He added, however, that the murder of millions of Jews by the Nazis on Polish soil was a crime that has no parallel in history.
“We will never forget our obligation to prevent this from ever happening again,” Netanyahu said.
On Thursday, before returning to Israel, the prime minister will inaugurate a permanent exhibition “Shoah” in Block 27 at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
This is the second time Netanyahu has traveled to Poland since becoming prime minister in 2009. The following ministers accompanied Netanyahu on his trip: Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, Education Minister Shai Piron, Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat, Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri and Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach.
While in Warsaw Netanyahu and the ministers held a joint ministerial meeting with a similar Polish delegation. It is the second such joint governmental meeting. Tusk and a delegation of ministers visited Israel two years ago.
Khaled Abu Toameh and Nissan Tzur contributed to this report.