PM from Rome: Unilateral state declaration delays peace

Netanyahu says he has told Israeli citizens they must accept Palestinian state living alongside Israel, gov't ready to negotiate.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311 (R) (photo credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311 (R)
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel is ready to engage in negotiations with the Palestinians, adding that efforts towards a unilateral declarations of Palestinians statehood delay the peace process instead of advancing it, Israel Radio reported Sunday.
Speaking to Italian media in Rome, Netanyahu added that he has told his nation to recognize a Palestinian state living alongside Israel, and the expects Palestinian Authority President Mahmous Abbas to say the same.
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Netanyahu  praised his counterpart Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's efforts to promote the peace process, stressing the friendly relations between Israel and Italy.
In May, Berlusconi supported Israel's position vis-a-vis the peace process saying that Italy would not recognize the unilateral declaration of the Palestinian state the Hamas-Fatah government is preparing for in September at the UN General Assembly.
The Italian prime minister said "when there is a dialogue that will represent all of the Palestinians, we can make progress," adding that there could "be no other future other than peace in our region."
Netanyahu was scheduled to meet Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno who promoted an extensive campaign for the release of Gilad Schalit, hanging a large poster of the kidnapped soldier in the Town Hall square, and even granting Schalit honorary citizenship.
The prime minister will reportedly meet Tuesday with Berlusconi, Parliament chairman Jean Franco Finn and other executive officials.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.