'Proximity talks can start next week'

PM responds to Abbas's words on restarting peace process.

netanyahu 311 (photo credit: AP)
netanyahu 311
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu alluded to the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process at a Likud convention in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, saying that he would be happy to begin proximity talks as soon as next week.
"I was satisfied to hear yesterday that [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas was ready to resume talks," Netanyahu told the assembled Likud members. "We are committed to a real peace process ... we support peace."
He warned, however, that any peace agreement with the Palestinian would have to safeguard what he termed Israel's "vital interests."
"We insist that [the Palestinians] recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland," the prime minister said, adding that a solution would have to be found to the issue of the Palestinian refugees without necessitating their return to Israel.
The prime minister then referred to differences of opinion within the party itself, saying that Likud member Moshe Feiglin and his supporters constituted an "extremist minority" that was a threat to party unity. The "Messianic, extremist" group, he said, was trying to "force on us a path that is foreign to us."
Also during his speech, Netanyahu announced that he would visit Egypt on Monday and meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.