Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on Sunday said the Palestinian leadership is not ready to confront extremism in the way that is necessary for a peace deal with Israel to be secured, and criticized Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israel as making “your hair stand on end.”
His comments were made in a pre-recorded video played at the annual Saban Forum hosted by the Brookings Institution in Washington DC.
“Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership is simply not prepared, and I hope this changes, but it’s not yet prepared to truly confront violence and fanaticism within Palestinian society, within their own ranks,” Netanyahu said.
He added, “Regrettably, the Palestinian leadership not only refuses to confront that extremism, at times, it even fuels it. It engages in incitement day in and day out. Just look at their webpages. Look at their websites – it’ll make your hair stand on end. And I think it’s important to confront this. I don’t think sticking our head in the sand promotes real peace and I don’t believe that false hopes promote real peace. I think they just push peace further away.”
Outlining his requirements for a peace deal to come to fruition the PM said, “Real peace will only come with leadership that demands from the Palestinians to accept the three pillars of peace: one, genuine mutual recognition; two, an end to all claims, including the right of return; and three, a long-term Israeli security presence. Now, I will never give up on this triangle of true peace.
“Israel seeks peace. I seek peace, but for peace we need a Palestinian partner willing to stand up to Palestinian extremists – as other Arab governments are now doing throughout the region. I hope that we will find such a partner – a partner who will recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, who will take our security concerns seriously, who will end all claims…”
Addressing the most recent failed round of peace talks, spearheaded by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanayhu said they ended because “the Palestinians wanted them to end.”
“The talks ended because President Abbas unfortunately chose a pact with Hamas over peace with Israel,” he added.
“For nine months we negotiated with the Palestinians, but they consistently refused to engage us on our legitimate security concerns, just as they refused to discuss recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, while at the same time insisting that Israel recognize a nation-state of the Palestinian people.”
The prime minister also addressed other regional challenges including the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, which he described as “by far the most vital national security challenge we face”, and the bloody rampage of terror group ISIS.
“The entire region is hemorrhaging,” he said. “Violence and fanaticism are spreading throughout the Middle East, and ISIS’s savagery is merely one example of it. The collapse of the old order has made clear to pragmatic Arab governments that Israel is not their enemy. On the contrary, Israel and our moderate Arab neighbors have much to gain by cooperating. And this cooperation could, in turn, open the door to peace…”
Netanyahu’s talk was followed by remarks from Kerry who sounded an optimistic tone about future prospects for peace in the region.