Netanyahu tells Kerry he is 'concerned' about talks with Palestinians

PM hopes US secretary of state can "steer" Palestinians back to peace track, says PA is creating "artificial crisis."

Kerry and Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: GPO / Kobi Gideon)
Kerry and Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: GPO / Kobi Gideon)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said bluntly alongside visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday morning that he was "concerned" about the negotiations with the Palestinians.
"I'm concerned about their progress, because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crisis, continuing to avoid historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace," he said. "I hope your visit can steer them back to a place where we can achieve the historic peace we seek and that our people deserve." Netanyahu said that Israel, the Palestinians and the US agreed to certain terms three months ago that led to a resumption of the negotiations.
Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry, October 6, 2013 Photo: GPO / Kobi Gideon
Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry, October 6, 2013 Photo: GPO / Kobi Gideon
"We stand by those terms," he said. "We abide scrupulously by the terms of the agreements and the understandings by which we launched the negotiations."
Government officials said repeatedly over the last week that while Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinian terrorists as part of the deal to renew the talks, it made no agreement to halt settlement construction, and that both the US and the Palestinians knew that construction would continue during the duration of the negotiations.
According to this reasoning, the Palestinians are jumping on the recent announcement of new building to create an "artificial crisis" in the talks.
Kerry, who will go to Bethlehem after his meeting with Netanyahu to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said there were always difficulties and tensions in negotiations. But, he said, "I am confident of our ability to work through them. That’s why I'm here."
Kerry said that following his meeting with Abbas, he will meet again with Netanyahu in the evening, and hinted at the possibility of a follow-up meeting with Abbas on Thursday.
"I hope we will continue in the good faith that brought the parties together in the first place," he said. "This can be achieved. With good faith, with a serious effort on both sides to make real compromises - hard decisions - this can be achieved."
Regarding Iran, Netanyahu again stressed that the "death to America" chants that reverberated through the streets of Tehran earlier this week on the 34th anniversary of the siege of the US embassy reflect the true face of the nation's leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"I think this attitude, buttressed by a policy of terror world wide - supporting Hezbollah, Hamas and all the forces that are against peace, and which is participating in the mass murder in Syria - I think such a regime must not have the world's most dangerous weapon," he said, a day before the P5+1 (The US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) resume talks with Iran in Geneva.
Netanyahu said that as long as the Iranians continue to enrich uranium, the sanctions pressure should be maintained and even increased. He said Israel was seeking a "full, peaceful dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities - end of all enrichment, end of all centrifuges, and end of the plutonium reactor. If this is achieved, I welcome it. I'd be very wary of any partial deals that enable Iran to maintain those capabilities, but begin to reduce sanctions because this could undermine the longevity and durability of the sanctions regime."
Kerry said that America's goal on Iran was that it only have a "peaceful nuclear program." He said it was "incumbent on the world to know with certainty that it is a peaceful program and there is no capacity to produce a weapon of mass destruction. That is our goal. And as I said many times, no deal is better than a bad deal. We will not make a bad deal, if a deal can be made at all. And we will be pursuing that carefully."