Netanyahu: Palestinians have not chosen path of peace

PM slams Palestinian Authority for unity deal with Hamas, touts strength of Israeli democracy at ceremony marking 63rd anniversary of Knesset; Peres: Return to peace process only way to ensure Jewish state.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu broad gesture 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu broad gesture 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Palestinians have decided not to embrace the path of peace, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday at a ceremony marking the 63rd anniversary of the Knesset.
"We said they need to choose between the path of Hamas and the path of peace," he said, but  concluded that Palestinians had chosen to embrace "terrorist organizations that call for Israel's destruction."
Every country has extremists, Netanyahu continued, but the question is how the government reacts to them. Israel responded swiftly and harshly to extremist agendas such as women's exclusion, he said.
"I know that there are those that argue that Israel's democracy is in danger. I disagree with them," he said, touting Israel's protection of minority rights without regard to race, sex and religion.
Looking outward, Netanyahu argued that Israel had never succumbed to limiting privacy rights the way the United States and United Kingdom had in times of war. Closer to home, Netanyahu addressed the nascent democracies of the Arab Spring, emphasizing that "real democracy is about what happens between elections."
"We all hope that real democracies will arise" in neighboring Arab countries, he said, "not one-time democracy."
It is still too early to tell if "serious, respectable instutions will arise to maintain democracy," Netanyahu said.
Peres: Iranian people are not our enemies
President Shimon Peres also spoke at the event, calling for a renewal of the peace process with the Palestinians.
Peres stated, "We must answer the question of what kind of country do we want? A Jewish state within safe and recognized borders next to a separate and independent Palestinian state, or a country without borders that will turn into a binational state?"
The president also adressed the Iranian issue, saying that "a combination of discretion and valor" is required to deal with the threat that Tehran poses to Israel.
Peres stated that Iran, which seeks regional  hegemony and has imperialist aims, "constitutes a real threat to all of humanity."
The president added, however, that the Iranian regime is the problem and that the people of Iran are not Israel's enemies.
"We were not born enemies and there is no reason we should live as enemies. The Iranian people must know that they will not remain alone if they choose freedom and peace."