Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinians to relinquish the right of return demand as a prerequisite to a comprehensive peace agreement with Israel.
Speaking Sunday evening at a State ceremony marking the 105th anniversary of the death of Theodore Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, Netanyahu said "They (Palestinians) must abandon their demand to settle the descendents of Palestinian refugees in Israel and gradually 'eat away' at the State of Israel after a peace agreement is signed."
The prime minister continued to say, "I long for the day when Palestinian leaders will tell their people 'we have had enough of the conflict. We the Palestinians recognize the Jewish nation's right to its own state in this country. We will live beside you in peace'."
"As soon as these things are said, a huge opportunity for peace will present itself," Netanyahu said during the ceremony, which was held at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl National Cemetery and was attended by 15 of Herzl's distant relatives, as well as by Jewish and Arab youths.
"The Jewish state is the key to our existence and the key to achieving peace with our neighbors," he said.
President Shimon Peres told those on hand, "In retrospect, the Zionist visionaries may have erred in dreaming too small. The reality far exceeded the dream in its intensity. The amount of Jews who arrived in Israel exceeded all expectations, the state that was established is stronger (than what the visionaries anticipated), and the (Israeli) army surprised the world with its strength.
"Forgive me, but I am allowed to dream of a new Middle East. We must strive for an end to the wars and the production of solar energy that will provide light and heat for all. We must dream of children who know no fear and of mothers who do not fear for their safety," said the president.