Netanyahu says Israel still committed to 2-state solution

Ahead of Merkel meeting, PM tells German daily he's "disappointed" in Berlin's vote on PA UN bid.

December 5, 2012 16:24
2 minute read.
PM Netanyahu speaks to Jewish immigrants at BGU

Netanyahu R370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israel remains committed to a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, despite worries among the Jewish State's European allies over its plans to build more settlements.

"We remain committed to a negotiated settlement between us and our Palestinian neighbors," Netanyahu said during a visit to Prague. "That solution is a two-state solution for two peoples, a peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish state of Israel."

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The prime minister also took a defiant tone on world criticism of Israel, which has rolled in since his announcement of plans to increase settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. "Israel will not sacrifice its vital interests for the sake of the world's applause," he said.

Netanyahu's comments came ahead of a visit to Germany, where he was scheduled to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt published on Wednesday, the prime minister expressed disappointment with Germany for having abstained from the United Nations vote to recognize the Palestinians as a non-member observer state, rather than vote against the measure.

"First of all I appreciate the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German government during the Gaza operation, but at the same time, it would be disingenuous if I would deny that I was disappointed with German voting behavior at the United Nations," Netanyahu told Die Welt.

Netanyahu said that Merkel likely thought she was promoting peace by not voting against the unilateral Palestinian move at the UN, but, in fact, "the opposite has happened. After the UN vote, the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas has made efforts to unite with the terrorists of Hamas."

The prime minister said that Merkel had "encouraged the Palestinians to harden their position and not to enter negotiations."

Netanyahu's comments came as the European Union summoned Israel's ambassador to discuss the bloc's concerns over Israeli plans to expand its settlements in the West Bank.

"The Israeli ambassador has been invited by the Executive Secretary General of the EEAS (European External Action Service) to meet to set out the depth of our concerns," EU foreign affairs spokeswoman said.

The EU reaction to the expansion plans would be influenced by "the extent to which Israeli moves represent a strategic threat to the possibility of a contiguous and viable state of Palestine with Jerusalem as a shared capital," she said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cautioned on Wednesday that Israel's plan to build new housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank is a red line because it will divide the Palestinian lands.

Speaking to Palestinian journalists in his Ramallah office, Abbas said that the PA leadership has been in contact with several international parties to prevent Israel from implementing its plan.

"If that happens, we will resort to all legitimate and legal methods," Abbas said, hinting at the possibility that the PA may lodge a complaint against Israel with the UN's International Criminal Court. "There is what we could do and say to prevent this dangerous decision."

Ignoring international pleas to halt the construction plans, the Higher Planning Council of Judea and Samaria approved the deposit of a plan for a controversial 3,500-apartment project in an un-built area of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement earlier in the day.

After depositing the plans, there is a 60-day period for objections.

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