- “Just do it,” he urges Abbas. “Recognize Jewish homeland”
- Netanyahu says agreement if leaders are flexible and creative
- Security at heart of negotiations, he declares.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is urging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying that the lack of such recognition was at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a conference call with Jewish leaders Monday, Netanyahu said none of the obstacles standing in the way of a peace agreement was insurmountable.
“I believe that an agreement is possible. But to succeed, President Abbas and I have to be willing to stick it out even when we disagree,” he said. “We have to be willing to address the issues with an open mind. We have to be flexible and creative in finding compromises that are anchored in a realistic assessment of what is possible.”
Netanyahu said Israeli security was at the crux of the negotiations which resumed earlier this month after a 20-month hiatus. “We want peace, but it has to be a secure peace and it there have to be solid security arrangements on the ground to ensure the peace – for us and for our Palestinian neighbors, and maybe for the entire neighborhood,” he said.
He recalled that Israeli withdrawals from south Lebanon and Gaza were followed by a terrorist buildup by Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are heavily armed with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles capable of hitting Israeli population centers.
On the issue of recognition, Netanyahu said he acknowledged the Palestinian right to self-determination and sovereignty and it was time for Palestinians to do the same for the Jewish people and its homeland, the state of Israel.
“President Abbas has to decide. He cannot skirt the issue. He cannot find clever language designed to obfuscate or to fudge it.
“He needs to recognize the Jewish state. He needs to say it clearly and unequivocally. He needs to say it to his own people in their own language.
“Remember that famous commercial – Just Do It? I think for the Palestinian leadership, it’s even simpler: Just Say It. Say that you recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Say that you recognize the Jewish state,” Netanyahu declared.