311_netanyahu with teacher stare.
(photo credit: Yossi Zamir)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu began Sunday's cabinet meeting with a statement on the government's support of the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
"We are holding intensive contacts with the American administration in order to restart the diplomatic process," Netanyahu told his cabinet. "Our goal is not just to resume the process, but to advance it in such a way that it cannot be halted in a few weeks or months, and will enter into approximately one year of continuous negotiations on the fundamental problems, in order to try and reach a framework agreement ahead of a peace settlement."
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During his speech, Netanyahu cast his desire to continue peace talks mainly in terms of Israel's national security interests and sought to quash any Palestinian thoughts of unilaterally appealing to the UN for international recognition of a new state.
"In these negotiations, we will – of course – uphold the vital interests of the State of Israel, with security first and foremost. We expect the Palestinians to honor their commitment to hold direct negotiations," said Netanyahu. "I think that any attempt to bypass them by appealing to international bodies is unrealistic and will not give any impetus to a genuine diplomatic process."
The prime minister's remarks regarding his commitment to see peace talks through came despite an announcement Thursday that he does not have plans to widen the governing coalition.
Netanyahu met with opposition leader Tzipi Livni last week, and phoned
her days later, fueling rumors that the two are negotiating terms for Kadima's addition to the coalition
a move that would lessen his government's reliance on the support of
right-wing parties opposed to a continuation of the settlement freeze.
However, Netanyahu has reportedly denied this assertion.
According to Army Radio, Netanyahu said he called Livni because their
meeting was cut short by an urgent situation. He added that he meets
with Livni every three weeks, suggesting their meeting was nothing out
of the ordinary.