Jerusalem, Jan. 6 – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday renewed his call for the immediate resumption of direct peace talks with the Palestinians.
“I am still inviting [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen to conduct negotiations without preconditions. This invitation still exists,” Netanyahu said in a radio interview in which he noted that peace must go both ways.
“It is impossible to recognize a Palestinian state without them recognizing the state of the Jewish people within some border,” Netanyahu said. “And they will also have to declare an end to the conflict.
“The conditions I placed aren’t conditions for entering negotiations – I am not stipulating any but Abu Mazen is. Rather, they are conditions for completing the negotiations and now with the regional changes it’s clear how correct they are.”
Talks between the two sides have been stuck since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and removed all its settlements there. Under heavy American pressure the Palestinians returned to the table for a few weeks in 2010 towards the end of a self-imposed Israeli construction freeze, but walked out when their demands were not met.
The peace process was further complicated when the Hamas terrorist group seized control of Gaza from Abbas in a bloody coup in 2007. Hamas rejects the peace process and refuses to negotiate with Israel, with its leaders saying they are committed to destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic Palestinian state.