Netanyahu pledges to continue talks with PA

Speaking at GA, Likud leader pushes plan to boost Israeli, Palestinian economies as path to peace.

Gaza food aid 224.88  (photo credit: AP)
Gaza food aid 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu pledged on Sunday to continue talks with the Palestinians if elected prime minister, saying he would base such talks on economic development. Speaking at the Jewish Agency's General Assembly, Netanyahu said a government under his leadership would work to boost the Palestinian economy as a springboard for - and alongside - diplomatic talks. "We need to make peace from the bottom up, rather than the top down, by improving the lives of Palestinians so that they have a stake in peace," he said. The Likud leader called on the government to lower taxes and invest in transportation infrastructure, such as roads and railroads, to avoid a further economic slide. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, said Netanyahu's approach would destroy peacemaking because the US-sponsored talks that began last year are designed to achieve a treaty on all outstanding issues between Israel and the Palestinians. "The time to speak about economics and fragmentation is over," Erekat fumed. "It seems to me that if Mr. Netanyahu thinks this is the course, he is closing the door to any chance for peace." Netanyahu also spoke of the need to improve the status of education in the country and to raise teachers' salaries. As the Likud leader was talking economics at the GA, trade at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange closed with mixed results. The MAOF Index dropped by 1.75 percent, to 674.89 points; the Tel Aviv 100 Index dropped by 1.16%, to 588.29 points. The Tel-Tech Index, however, registered a small climb, 1.95%, reaching 131.50 points.