Israel is willing to make "very serious territorial concessions" in order to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz said.
In an interview with The Telegraph, published Friday, Steinitz said that a "demilitarized" Palestinian state was the "only possible solution" to the conflict.
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"At the end of the day, we will have such a situation. It’s going to be difficult to achieve it - there are many obstacles in the way - but I think there is no other solution to the problem," said the minister, who is a member of the ruling Likud party.
Israel and the Palestinians are expected to resume peace negotiations in Washington next week.
"We are prepared to make considerable concessions and it’s not going to be easy," Steinitz told the British newspaper. "Both sides will have to make very significant concessions and very difficult concessions. We will probably have to make very serious territorial concessions. And the Palestinians will have to make also both territorial concessions - because there will be settlement blocks - but more important still they will have to recognize the very existence of the Jewish people and the Jewish state."
The minister said the Palestinians will also have to abandon the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees who were left Israel during the war of 1948. As for Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their capital, Steinitz said the status quo was the only option.
"We are ready for a two states for two people solution," he said. "If we reach an end of conflict peace agreement with the Palestinians, we will have a referendum. I can tell you, I am confident that most Israelis will support it - even if we will have to make considerable and difficult concessions, including territorial concessions. But on one condition: that Israelis will be totally convinced that what we are getting in return is genuine, enduring peace and real security."
Addressing Iran's nuclear ambitions, Steinitz told The Telegraph that President-Elect Hassan Rohani had "cheated" the West when he led negotiations over the nuclear program a decade ago. While making paper concessions, Iran pressed on with developing its nuclear facilities.
"He (Rohani) is cunning, he's charming and he will smile all the way to the (nuclear) bomb unless the Western world will do everything necessary to stop him," said the minister.
The West, added Steinitz, should send Iran a "clear message" by stating: "You want to save the Iranian economy? Give up the nuclear project. You want to continue the nuclear project? You will destroy the Iranian economy and even expose yourself to potential possible military attack. There is no third way, nothing in between. No middle way."
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