Hamas could show it is serious about peace talks if it released abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad ben Aviva Shalit, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting today.
Netanyahu’s comments came in the wake of a recent visit by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who offered to host talks based on U.S. President Barack Obama’s support of 1967 boders, in an attempt to avert a showdown at the United Nations in September.
Speaking last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas voiced his initial consent to the French offer, saying that the Palestinians “said that in principle that this initiative is acceptable.”
The French proposal advocates what Juppe called “two states for two peoples,” an apparent gesture to Netanyahu, who insists that the newly formed Fatah-Hamas cabinet recognize of Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people.”
Referring to the chances of engaging in peace talks with a Palestinian government that included Hamas, Netanyahu said on Sunday that it was “important to emphasize at this point what we have been saying over and over: Negotiations will not take place with a Palestinian cabinet half of which is made of Hamas, a terror organization intent on destroying Israel.”
“I have made it clear to the French FM that Hamas must adopt the Quartet principles. If the claim that a new wind is blowing from Hamas, that could be proven by freeing Gilad Shalit,” the PM added, saying that if [Abbas] is on such good relations with Hamas, he could pressure Hamas to free Gilad.”
Referring to the French peace initiative, the premier said he “heard the offer brought forth by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, whom I met on Thursday in Jerusalem.”
“We very much appreciate our French friends, and I shall respond [to the offer] after we have weighed the issues. We will study the proposal, and discuss it with our American friends,” he added.
“We shall look into how the proposal fits in with earlier ones. Naturally, we cannot implement them all, it’s preferable that we focus on one initiative and advance it.”