Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu insisted Wednesday the conflict with the Palestinians is not about territory, rather the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland – appearing to counter a modified peace proposal from the Arab world.
Netanyahu has not commented directly on the Arab League’s latest initiative, but his words questioned its central tenet – the exchange of captured land for peace.
The original 2002 Arab initiative offered a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Muslim world in exchange for a withdrawal from all territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Sweetening the offer this week, the Arab sponsor said final borders could be drawn through mutually agreed land swaps.
“The root of the conflict isn’t territorial. It began way before 1967,” he told Israeli diplomats. “The Palestinians’ failure to accept the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict. If we reach a peace agreement, I want to know that the conflict won’t continue – that the Palestinians won’t come later with more demands.”
The Palestinians have rejected Netanyahu’s demand to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, saying it would undermine the rights of Israel’s Arab minority as well as millions of refugees scattered throughout the world whose families lost properties during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948.
The fate of the refugees is a core issue that would need to be resolved as part of a final peace deal.
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