Netanyahu rejects Palestinian right of return to Israel

Channel 2: Two sides far apart in peace talks.

Abbas and Netanyahu 2010 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Abbas and Netanyahu 2010 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The unity of Jerusalem is important and Palestinians can not have a right of return into Israel in any final status agreement for a two-state solution, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday morning.
“We ascribe importance to the unity of Jerusalem and, of course, to the cancellation of the right of return,” Netanyahu said.
He spoke on the same day that Channel 2 provided information which it said was leaked from the ongoing talks between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, which showed that both sides were far apart in their demands.
In a final-status negotiation the Palestinians have insisted Palestinian refugees should have the choice to return to Israel, Channel 2 said.
It added that Palestinians were only interested in a territorial exchange of not more than 1.9%.
Both sides have agreed not to divulge the contents of the negotiations which began in July and are set to end in March. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that during the nine-month negotiating process he is the only one authorized to release information.
According to Channel 2, the Palestinians have asked that Israel recognize Palestine as a state under occupation already now and provide a secure link to the Gaza Strip.
Israel would need to withdraw from the West Bank over three years and a peace deal would be signed only six months after such cessation, according to Channel 2.
In addition Palestinians would receive the release of all prisoners in Israeli jails, control of border crossings and a section of the Dead Sea, according to Channel 2.
Palestinians want the ability to conduct bilateral relations and sign agreements without Israel’s involvement, Channel 2 said.
It added that Israel has offered the Palestinians financial compensation in exchange for retaining some of the settlement blocs, in addition to the principle of land swaps. Israel also wants to maintain an IDF presence along the Jordan border, Channel 2 said.
Israel would accept a contiguous Palestinian state, Channel 2 said.
In the morning at the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said, “We want to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. In this agreement, we will insist on the vital interests of the State of Israel, first of all security, of course, and including our ability to continue defending our eastern border.”
He clarified that in a final-status agreement the Palestinians would have to renounce all national claims and recognize the State of Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people.
“We are demanding from them that at the end of the negotiations, they will renounce all their claims, including national claims, and that they recognize the national rights of the Jewish people in the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “[Recognizing] Israel as our national state is an integral part of their recognition that there are no national demands and no national rights in the State of Israel.”