Netanyahu says ready for peace
New York - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday said he was extending a hand of peace to the Palestinian people, but accused its leadership of refusing peace efforts.
"I extend my hand to the Palestinian people with whom we seek a just and lasting peace," the Israeli premier said in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly shortly after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted a statehood bid.
"The truth is that Israel wants peace, the truth is that I want peace... The truth is that we cannot reach peace through UN resolutions but through negotiations.
"The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate," he said.
He was speaking after Abbas made history in his people's long quest for statehood as he formally asked the United Nations on Friday to admit Palestine as a full member state.
Abbas handed a formal application to UN chief Ban Ki-moon at 15:35 buoyed by more than 120 nations that have already recognised a Palestinian state.
He won huge applause and a partial standing ovation as he later stepped up to address the UN General Assembly and vowed the Palestinians were ready to return to peace talks if Israeli settlement activities cease.