Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: AFP

Netanyahu welcomes direct peace talks

Prime minister reportedly satisfied with Washington's desire to relaunch direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks sans preconditions; says reaching deal within one year 'difficult, but possible'

VIDEO - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday welcomed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's invitation for a peace summit with the Palestinians in Washington, in September.


Earlier, Clinton called a special press conference at the State Department and announced that US President Barack Obama will host a peace summit between Israel and the PA on September 2nd, in which the two parties will officially relaunch direct peace talks.


The Obama Administration, she said, believes that a peace agreement can be achieved with in one year.


Israel would like to hold "serious, comprehensive talks… reaching a peach agreement is difficult, but possible," Netanyahu said in a statement.


"We come with the genuine wish to strike peace between the two peoples, while preserving Israel's national interests, and first and foremost its security," he said.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak also welcomed Clinton invitation to resume the peace talks. Barak said both parties will be required to make "courageous decisions to reach an agreement."


Jerusalem sources added that Israel would be willing to discuss every open issue, but the subject of security will take precedent to all others.


The agreement, they said, must include security arrangements that would assure that the future Palestinian state will note pose a security threat to Israel.


Said state, added the sources, would have to be demilitarized, and would be unable to sign any defensive treaty with forces hostile to Israel. It can have no weapons, excluding those used by its police; and elements hostile to Israel are to be barred from all Palestinian territories.


Top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton reiterated Clinton and the Quartet's calls for a summit, urging both parties to "work hard," so that a peace deal could be achieved within a year. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner reiterated the sentiment, as did British Foreign Secretary William Hague.


'Clinton's suggestion dangerous'

The PLO's Executive Committee met Friday night in Ramallah to discuss the invitation. 


Senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo later stated that the Palestinian leadership accepted the US' invitation, but added that any failure by Israel to fully halt settlement building on Israeli-occupied land where the Palestinians aim to found a state would endanger the talks.


Still, not all are in agreement on the Palestinian side: Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed Clinton's invitation as "another attempt to defraud the Palestinian people," adding that "the Palestinian people will not be obligated by the (summit's) results."


Palestinian Parliamentarian Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative, said the negotiations Clinton advocates "are more dangerous than the Camp David talks, since they are not based on the cessation of settlement activity, have no clear guidelines and can only lead to a dangerous failure.


"Negotiations lacking conditions acceptable by the international community and International Law spell only failure and the attempt to destroy the foundations of the peace talks."


The Islamic Jihad, on its part, slammed the PLO's Executive Committee, saying it was capitulating to the US in a move meant to serve Israel's interests


Any decision, said the group, "Will fail to represent the national and popular Palestinian consensus, serving instead only the self-interest of a small group which derives profit from the continued Palestinian split."


Ali Waked, Shmuel Tal and Reuters contributed to this report




פרסום ראשון: 08.20.10, 21:05
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