311_Netanyahu, Clinton, Abbas and Mitchell at table.
(photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday addressed peace talks participants at the White House, emphasizing the lengths to which Israel was willing to achieve a lasting peace.
"We are prepared to walk down this road, to go a long way to achieve peace," said Netanyahu. He added, that Israel wished to help "shape a new reality" and to have "good neighbors" along its borders.
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Speaking after Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said at Thursday's meeting that current peace talks are meant to bring peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people within a year.
Abbas thanked US President Barack Obama,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mideast envoy George Mitchell for
their part in the launch of direct peace talks.
A lasting peace with Israel is within the interests of the
Palestinian people as well as all regional powers, Abbas said.
"Peace is not only within the interests of
Palestinians, but in the interests of the entire region as well," said
Earlier at the gathering, US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the commencement of the
peace talks encouraging each side to come to a resolution of the long
"I know the decision to sit
at this table was not easy. We understand the suspicion and skepticism
that so many feel borne out of years of conflict and frustrated hopes,"
Clinton said. She continued, " This [attempt to achieve a lasting peace]
is in the US's national security interests. But we will not impose a
solution. Only you can bring an end to this conflict."
Back in Israel, in an early response to the ongoing talks in
the group representing Israeli settlers criticized the talks as a
Palestinian ploy to gain more land in an effort to eventually destroy
the Jewish state in a Channel 2 interview on Thursday.
"The territories in the Judea and Samaria are only the first stage
[in Palestinian plans], the second stage is entire State [of Israel],"
said Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria
Director-General Naftali Bennett.