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Joint government meeting Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
Joint government meeting Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
 
 

Netanyahu: If Hamas wants a deal - there will be one

During press conference with Italian counterpart, prime minister addresses claim that he is responsible for deadlock in talks aimed at securing captive soldier's release. 'We have two goals – to bring him home and not to let terrorists murder again,' he says. Berlusconi says Italy reducing its ties with Iran, offers to help relay messages between Israel and Syria

Roni Sofer
Published: 02.02.10, 18:27 / Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday addressed the talks aimed at securing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release, saying that the ball was in Hamas' court.

 

"If Hamas wants a deal, there will be one. If Hamas doesn't want a deal, there won't be one," the prime minister said in a press conference with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi following a joint meeting between the two countries' cabinets.

 

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"We have a goal – to bring Gilad Shalit home safe and sound," Netanyahu said. "Our second goal is not to allow terrorists to murder our citizens again, neither in Judea and Samaria nor in the routes leading there. These are the two answers we gave the German mediator as well."

 

Netanyahu was addressing a claim made earlier by Hamas strongman Mahmoud al-Zahar, who said that the deal has collapsed and that the Israeli prime minister for to blame for changing his stand.


 

Berlusconi with cabinet ministers (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)

 

Moving on to Israel's tense relations with Turkey, Netanyahu said that "our relations with Turkey are important. They have recently experienced a decline, and that wasn't our choice. I believe both countries have an interest to stabilize these relations.

 

"Naturally, any country which can help, like Italy, will be blessed. Can Silvio Berlusconi help? I assume he can," the prime minister said.

 

The Italian premier replied, "We will do the best we can to allow a deep friendship between Israel and Turkey."

 

'Italy minimizing trade with Iran'

Despite his remarks on improving relations between Jerusalem and Ankara, the Italian leader offered to replace Turkey in mediating between Israel and Syria, saying he could relay messages from Jerusalem to Damascus in his upcoming meetings with the Assad regime in the next few months.

 

As for sanctions against Iran, Berlusconi clarified that his country has been reducing its business ties with the Islamic Republic over the past three years, despite data revealed by Ynet last week, which showed that the volume of trade between European countries and Iran remains high.

 

The Italian prime minister also referred to the Eni company, which is active in Iran's oil wells, saying it is also committed to the move. He noted that he had offered to Netanyahu to summon the company's CEO for a meeting in order to discuss the matter.

 

"The decision to Revolutionary Guards to the terror list is expected to be approved unanimously by all European Union countries following research," Berlusconi said. He added, "We are now considering measures on the past of the UN and EU to limit the movement of those organizations' leaders."

 

Netanyahu responded by saying, "It's Rome's duty to take part in the most important mission on the international level, with the intention of recruiting an international front to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Silvio Berlusconi is fulfilling this position in an impressive and highly esteemed manner. Italy isn't waiting, it's already doing what is has to."

 

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