Netanyahu: We Accept Demilitarized Palestinian State


netanyahuIn a much-anticipated foreign policy address tonight, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel, but only if the Palestinians recognize Israel’s nature as a Jewish state. Netanyahu said that he embraced President Barack Obama’s vision, adding, however, that the Holocaust was not the reason for the establishment of the Jewish state. The prime minister said that the descendants of the Palestinian refugees must not be resettled within Israel borders and that Yerushalayim must remain united. Israel, he said, would not build any new settlements or expropriate new land for existing settlements.

“Peace has always been our objective,” Netanyahu began. “Our prophets always envisioned peace; we bless each other with Shalom; our prayers end in peace.”

“I support the idea of regional peace that is being led by Obama,” Netanyahu said, adding that he was willing to meet any Arab leader anywhere.

“I turn to Arab leaders: Let’s make peace, I am ready,” Netahyahu said. “I am willing to go to Damascus, Riyadh, Beirut – to meet anytime and anywhere.”

Netanyahu warned of the threat emanating from Iran, saying, “The biggest threat to Israel, and the middle east and all of humanity is the meeting between radical Islamism and nuclear weaponry.”

Netanyahu called on the Palestinians to “begin peace talks immediately, and without preconditions.”

Citing the “heavy toll” the ongoing conflict has taken and mentioning the death of his brother, Yonatan, Netanyahu said, “I don’t want war. Nobody in Israel wants war.”

“If the advantages of peace are so clear, we must ask – why is peace still far? What is perpetuating the conflict for over 60 years? We must reach the root of the struggle,” he continued.

“Let me use the most simple words – the root of the struggle is the refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. The initial Arab refusal was to a Jewish state in any location, before Israeli presence in the West Bank,” the prime minister said.

“The closer we get to an agreement with the Palestinians, the further it is rejected,” he continued. “We tried a withdrawal with an agreement, without one, a partial withdraw and we offered a near-complete withdraw. We uprooted Jewish settlers from their homes, and received a barrage of missiles in return.”

“Sadly, even the Palestinian moderates won’t say the most simple statement – Israel is the Jewish national state, and will remain as such.

“To achieve peace, courage and honesty are necessary from both sides. The Palestinians must say – ‘enough with this conflict. We recognize Israel’s right to exist, and want to live by their side.’

“A public Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation-state is a prerequisite for regional peace,” Netanyahu said.

“In the heart of Israel there lives a large group of Palestinians,” the prime minister continued, noting his will to see a demilitarized Palestinian state existing peacefully alongside Israel.

“For peace,” he said, “we must ensure that Palestinians have no weapons and the opportunity to create pacts with hostile forces.

“We ask that the US commit that in the end-deal the Palestinian territory will be demilitarized. Without that, sooner or later, we will have another ‘Hamastan.’ And Israel can’t agree to that.”

“I told Obama that if we agree on the essence, the semantics won’t matter,” Netanyahu added.

“If we receive a commitment to Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and a demilitarized Palestinian state, we can reach a final agreement.”

Netanyahu continued to stress that Yerushalayim would remain a united Jewish state.

“In the interim there is no intention to create new settlements or expand existing towns, while not preventing the natural needs of settlers, who are not enemies,” he added.

“Palestinians must decide between the way of peace and the way of Hamas. Israel won’t negotiate with a group that calls for Israel’s destruction. Hamas won’t even let the Red Cross visit our captive soldier Gilad Schalit,” Netanyahu said.

{Yair Israel/JPost}