PM: PA won't budge on peace talk preconditions

Abbas refuses direct talks, security comes before peace, Netanyahu tells Knesset committee.

prime minister binyamin netanyahu informing_311 (photo credit: GPO/Moshe Milner)
prime minister binyamin netanyahu informing_311
(photo credit: GPO/Moshe Milner)
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat “will not budge a nanometer” in his positions during peace talks with Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday.
Addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu said he is willing to start talks “anytime, anywhere without preconditions,” and would get into his car and drive to Ramallah right away, “even if it would be a headache for my security staff.”
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However, the prime minister explained, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not prepared to meet with him for direct talks.
“For three years the Palestinians refused to negotiate, and thought they’d be able to force preconditions. Israel even agreed to an unprecedented 10-month freeze [on settlement construction],” he added.
Netanyahu said that the sides agreed not to discuss the current negotiations in Jordan with the press, but that Erekat is not keeping his side of the deal because he plans to abandon talks next week, which the PA thinks is the Quartet deadline. Israel, however, says that the deadline is on April 3.
“Erekat’s stances, which everyone knows already, do not change,” the prime minister remarked.
Netanyahu added that, due to the unity deal between Hamas and Fatah, Israel is demanding that Gaza be demilitarized, in addition to the West Bank. He pointed out that there are over 10,000 missiles in Gaza with a range of over 40 km.
“Security comes before peace,” he repeated multiple times, explaining that he would be willing to abandon peace talks if they threatened Israel.
The prime minister also discussed changes in the Middle East, saying that the region is unstable and volatile.
The relationship between Israel and Egypt that existed under former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak will not return, Netanyahu said, and the new situation will affect Israel’s security.
He added that the US may cut its financial support of Egypt if the peace treaty with Israel is broken.
In addition, Libyan weapons are entering Gaza through the Sinai Peninsula, which is becoming a platform for terror and Iranian intervention, Netanyahu explained.
In relation to Iran, the prime minister said that until there are real and effective sanctions against Iran's petroleum industry and central bank, sanctions will not stop Iran's nuclear program.
Netanyahu also said that since the US left Iraq, Iran is quickly “filling the vacuum.”
As a result of changes in the Middle East, Israel’s security problems are worsening, he explained.
“The State of Israel must greatly strengthen its defense capabilities and its ability to attack immediately. This costs a lot of money,” Netanyahu stated. “We cannot increase the IDF’s power without a strong economy.”