'Step up to the plate.' PM talks to Fox News
Photo: AP

Netanyahu: Jerusalem dispute should not delay direct talks

Ynet learns PM told forum of seven senior ministers direct negotiations with Abbas set for early August. In Fox News interview, PM says, 'We want united Jerusalem. Palestinians have their own views. This is one of the issues that will have to be negotiated'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the forum of seven senior ministers on Sunday to discuss the possibility of launching direct talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


The ministers were instructed not to comment on the talks, but Ynet has learned they are scheduled to begin in early August.


The PM also briefed the forum on his recent visit to the US, during which he met with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


Netanyahu said in an interview broadcast Sunday that it was unlikely a peace deal with the Palestinians could be implemented by 2012.


"Can we have a negotiated peace? Yes. Can it be implemented by 2012? I think it's going to take longer than that," Netanyahu told Fox News.


Asked if he believes there can be a Palestinian state by 2012, Netanyahu said he thought the process needs to take longer.


"I think there can be a solution. It may be implemented over time, because time is an important factor of getting the solution, both in terms of security arrangements and other things that would be difficult if they're not allowed to take place over time," he said.


'Let's just get on with it'

During the interview, Netanyahu again stated he's ready for direct talks with the Palestinians, but said President Mahmoud Abbas needs to "step up to the plate."


"I need a partner on the other side. I can't be a trapeze artist that wants to connect with the other guy and there's no one there," he said. "I need a Palestinian partner."


The prime minister said the differences between them -- over settlements, over the status of Jerusalem -- should not delay the start of face-to-face talks.


"We have differences of views with the Palestinians. We want a united city (in Jerusalem). They have their own views. This is one of the issues that will have to be negotiated. But I think the main point is to get on with it," he said. "What are we wasting more time for? Let's just get on with it."


For the past two months, Israel and the Palestinians have been engaged in a series of US-backed "proximity talks" which have seen US envoy George Mitchell shuttling between the two sides.


But Israel wants to shift to direct negotiations -- in a move which was publicly backed by Obama when he met with Netanyahu in Washington last week.


Following the meeting, Obama assured Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas by telephone on Friday of his commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state, Abbas' spokesman said.


The Palestinians have set August 2011 as a target date for a state, particularly prime minister Salam Fayyad, who has been trying to build the institutions for a de-facto state.


AFP contributed to the report 


פרסום ראשון: 07.12.10, 08:55
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