Bibi to Ban: Settlement is not the main issue
Prime minister says root of Israeli-Palestinian conflict is refusal to recognize Israel as Jewish state
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who is visiting Israel, that the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the refusal to recognize the Jewish state "on any border" and has nothing to do with Israel's settlement enterprise.


Netanyahu said he was looking forward to discussing regional issues with Ban, foremost Iran's attempts at obtaining a nuclear weapon and the Syrian civil war.


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The prime minister said it was important to discuss "the real issues" and not those that usually get more attention such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He remarked that until recently the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was commonly cited as the root of instability in the Middle East but that this was no longer applicable in the wake of unrest in the Arab and Muslim world.


Addressing the Palestinian issue, the prime minister said that the conflict began before even one settlement was established. He noted that attacks against Israel continued despite the Gaza pullout and that this was because of a fundamental rejection of the Jewish state.


He stressed that construction in areas such as Gilo or in settlement blocs, which he said everyone including the Palestinians knows would stay under Israeli sovereignty in a future agreement, should not be the main issue of discussion. The main issue should be how to achieve a demilitarized Palestinian state that will recognize the one and only Jewish state, according to Netanyahu.


Earlier on Friday, Ban met with President Shimon Peres and stated that negotiations were the best way to move towards a two-state solution. He said this was a critical moment for Israel.



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