Israel PM: Palestinians must 'abandon fantasy'

2014-03-05 10:15
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington. (Nicholas Kamm, AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington. (Nicholas Kamm, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Washington - Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday directly urged Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and to "abandon the fantasy" of flooding Israel with refugees.

But his remarks sparked a furious reaction from the Palestinians who denounced his demand and said it had effectively put the final nail in the coffin of the US-led peace talks.

The latest spat threw a harsh spotlight on the yawning divide between the two sides, and the Herculean task faced by US Secretary of State John Kerry who is trying to get them to agree a framework for extending direct peace talks beyond an 29 April deadline.

Addressing delegates at the annual policy conference of Aipac, Netanyahu said he was prepared to make an "historic peace", but not without a Palestinian acceptance of the Jewish state.

"It's time the Palestinians stopped denying history," he said, returning to a major point of disagreement in peace talks, which have struggled to make headway in the last seven months.

"President Abbas: recognise the Jewish state and in doing so, you would be telling your people.. to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees," he said.

Netanyahu insists that only when the Palestinians acknowledge Israel as the Jewish state will the conflict be finally over.

‘Totally rejected’

For the Palestinians, the issue is intimately entwined with the fate of their refugees who were forced out of their homes or fled in 1948 when Israel became a state. They see Netanyahu's demand as a way to sidestep a negotiated solution to the refugee question.

Netanyahu also alluded to Israel's demand to retain a military presence along the Jordan Valley, which runs down the eastern flank of the West Bank, in any future deal saying he would not cede security to foreign peacekeepers.

"If we reach an agreement with the Palestinians.... that peace will most certainly come under constant attack" by groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza and extremists from al-Qaeda.

"Experience has shown that foreign peace-keeping forces, keep the peace only when there is peace, but when subjected to repeated attacks, those forces eventually go home... The only force that can be relied on to defend the peace.. [is] the Israeli army," he said.

His words sparked an immediate backlash from Ramallah.

Top Palestinian official Nabil Shaath told AFP that Netanyahu's demand for such recognition, and his insistence on keeping Israeli troops deployed in a future Palestinian state were "totally rejected".

Netanyahu's speech was tantamount to "an official announcement of a unilateral end to negotiations", he said.

Israel has repeatedly insisted there will be no peace deal without addressing the issue of recognition and a clause relating to this has been inserted into Kerry's as-yet-unpublished framework proposal.

But the Palestinians have refused to back down, rejecting Kerry's inclusion of the clause in the framework as "unacceptable".

Strong words

Palestinian negotiators arrived in Washington late on Monday ahead for further talks ahead of a visit by president Mahmud Abbas to the White House on 17 March.

US and Israeli officials were tight-lipped about the substance of Monday's meeting, with White House spokesperson Jay Carney refusing to say whether or not Netanyahu had agreed to accept the US framework.

"We continue to work very closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians on a framework for negotiations," he said.

Netanyahu also made a rare reference to the opportunities a peace deal would open up, including "the possibility of establishing formal ties with between Israel and leading countries of the Arab world.

"Peace with the Palestinians would turn our relations with them and with many Arab countries into open and thriving relationships," he said in positive remarks more commonly heard from reputed moderates like Israeli President Shimon Peres.

"The combination of Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship could catapult the entire region forward. I believe together we could solve the region's water and energy problems."

He also had strong words for the Palestinian-led movement to boycott, divest from and sanction (BDS) Israel over its activities in the occupied territories.

"The BDS movement is not about legitimate criticism, it's about making Israel illegitimate," he said. "That movement will fail."

But BDS spokesperson Rafeef Ziadah brushed off Netanyahu's words as a "desperate attack", noting that governments were beginning "to take action to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law".

Read more on:    mahmud abbas  |  john kerry  |  shimon peres  |  benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  palestine  |  middle east peace
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
89 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Cape Town - 16:15 PM
    Road name: Wet Weather
    RAIN across the greater Cape Town area - drive with care and use headlights - Allow Extra Tavel Time
  • Friday Kuils River - 09:28 AM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 8520

Wi-Fi enabled With the BlackBerry Curve 8520 connect to your home...

From R1100.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The day may have a fluctuating sensitive energy to begin with, but later when the Moon moves into dramatic and creative Leo you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.