Bibi tells EU he will pursue peace

Netanyahu: We intend to interlace rapid economic development for the Palestinians with peace making.

netanyahu bibi boyish 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
netanyahu bibi boyish 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel must control the airspace of a future Palestinian state, and that entity would have to be demilitarized, Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu has been telling foreign officials in recent days. Netanyahu, trying to calm concerns abroad about Monday's Likud primary and the prospect of the diplomatic process were he to win February's elections, has assured various international officials since the primary that he would continue with the Annapolis process, but with some red lines. Those red lines - in addition to the demilitarization of a Palestinian state and Israeli control of its air and electromagnetic space - also include a unified Jerusalem under Israeli control, and an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley. In recent meetings with foreign officials, Netanyahu has conveyed the message that he is a responsible and moderate leader who has successfully concluded negotiations with the Palestinians in the past, namely the Wye agreement and the Hebron accords. At the same time, he has made clear that he would change the sequence of negotiations with the Palestinians, and first discuss the security arrangements that Israel would demand, then discuss borders, and only at the very last stage deal with the issue of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. His statements about the need for a Palestinian state to be demilitarized, with Israeli control over the airspace, were in line with one of Israel's 14 reservations to the road map peace plan that were presented to the US in 2003. The fifth reservation stated that a provisional Palestinian state would be "fully demilitarized with no military forces, but only with police and internal security forces of limited scope and armaments, be without the authority to undertake defense alliances or military cooperation, and Israeli control over the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, as well as of its air space and electromagnetic spectrum," referring to radio, television and microwave transmissions. Netanyahu has said in these meetings that the current situation in Gaza was "unacceptable," and that Israel could not accept the existence of what was turning into an Iranian base of operations. As to Teheran's nuclear march, he has stressed that he believed the economic downturn - Iran is also being hurt - provided a real opportunity to ratchet up the sanctions, and that the Islamic republic is now very vulnerable to economic pressure. Regarding the Syrian track, Netanyahu told his international interlocutors in recent days that with Damascus creating mischief for the EU in Lebanon, the US in Iraq, and Israel in southern Lebanon and Gaza, the overtures to Syria were premature. He has also said in these conversations that any agreement with Syria would entail Israel holding on to the Golan's "high ground." During these meetings, Netanyahu has stressed that he was very keen on setting up a national unity government.