Netanyahu: Drop right of return to PA

Says Israel has no negotiating partner; "I'm not afraid of elections."

netanyahu 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
netanyahu 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Israel must take the issue of the Palestinian "right of return" off its political agenda, Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday. Speaking at a ceremony at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Netanyahu said that removing this issue was a precondition for negotiations with the Palestinians. "At the moment, we have no partner, and those who stand against us declare incessantly that they intend to destroy us," Army Radio quoted him saying. According to Netanyahu, peace negotiations today are "in retreat following the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, the withdrawal from Gaza, and the Second Lebanon War." Netanyahu also attacked the government's activity, and estimated that it would not remain in power much longer. The opposition leader also mentioned the Winograd Committee's partial report, which determined that the government had failed to exercise responsibility. He said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lacked in-depth knowledge of military operations. "We need to change [our] leadership," he said. "The [Winograd] report said that the entire government had failed. We can't keep marking time with deterrence that has lost its effectiveness." "The leadership should be changed in order to learn a lesson," Netanyahu continued. "Everyone has had a chance to make his claims, and the public will decide. I'm not afraid of elections," he said.