'Palestinians are toughening stance'

PM warns of lack of moderation in PA leadership, vows to cooperate with US.

March 28, 2010 12:20
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (AP).

netanyahu 311. (photo credit: AP)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the Palestinians continue to toughen their standpoint on negotiations.

"There is absolutely no sign of moderation, and I am not expecting the discussions within the Arab League to make the process any easier," Netanyahu said at a government meeting. "We are continuing to see the Palestinian rigidity. There are no signs of cooperation," the prime minister said, adding that Israel would nevertheless continue to negotiate, in conjunction with US efforts.

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Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu distanced himself from severe criticism leveled at US President Barack Obama which was attributed to the Israeli premier’s associates.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stressed that the remarks quoted in Yediot Aharonot saying that Obama was a “tragedy” for Israel, were unacceptable.

"I have recently heard anonymous, unworthy remarks in the media regarding the American administration and the American president," he said. "I would like to make it clear: I find these remarks to be unacceptable. They are from nobody acting on my behalf. Relations between Israel and the US are those between allies and friends and reflect longstanding tradition. Even when there are differences of opinion, they are differences of opinion among friends and will remain so."

The prime minister said that when speaking on Capitol Hill with leaders from both houses of Congress last week, he found there was "very strong support for Israel's positions and the desire that Israeli-US relations should remain such that even when there are disagreements, they will be resolved as is proper among allies."

He said that during the talks in Washington, a range of issues were discussed, including Iran and "our common desire to resume and restart the peace process."

Netanyahu said that there were areas in which there was full agreement, as well as those where there was disagreement.

"We tried to take – and we took – various steps to reduce the gaps in order to advance the process," emphasized the prime minister. "We are continuing these efforts."

Netanyahu also referred to the weekend clashes in Gaza in which Maj. Eliraz Peretz, and St.-Sgt. Maj. Ilan Sviatkovsky were killed.

He said the Peretz family had lost two sons in "the continuing conflict that we are waging against Iran's emissaries of terrorism."

"Israel's policy of response is sharp and vigorous," he vowed. "We will respond sharply to any attack on our citizens and soldiers. This policy is well-known and will continue. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations must know that will bear the responsibility for their actions."

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