Israel committed to two-state solution: Netanyahu

Jerusalem, June 10 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday reiterated his commitment to the two-state solution, saying there were no preconditions to renew negotiations with Palestinians.

Netanyahu said at the annual Herzliya Conference that he was committed to the two-state solution and had been “trying to speak substantively to (Palestinian) President Mahmoud Abbas for six years,” calling Abbas to “return to talks without preconditions”, Xinhua quoted the Israeli prime minister as saying.

The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian broke down last April when Israel refused to release a third batch of Palestinian prisoners and approved thousands of settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians aspire to build their own state.

Since then, Israel has suffered growing criticism and isolation on the international level due to its continuing construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem of Jewish settlements, as well as its nationalist legislation and an explosive security situation.

The Palestinians, on their part, led a series of diplomatic moves in order to unilaterally end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state. Several European countries have recently expressed their support of the Palestinian cause.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu slammed the Palestinian move joining the International Criminal Court earlier this year in order to prosecute Israeli officials for war criminals, saying that the move, along with other unilateral moves advanced by the Palestinians, were “bad for peace”.

Regarding Israel’s demands for the Palestinians to recognise it as a Jewish state and demilitarise the West Bank, Netanyahu said they were not preconditions for renewing negotiation but rather “basis for long lasting peace”.

Earlier in the day, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon said at the Herzliya Conference that he did not see a chance to forge a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians in his lifetime.

Ya’alon, a senior member in Netanyahu’s cabinet and his close ally, also blamed the Palestinians for the collapse of the peace talks last year.

On June 2, US President Barack Obama called on Netanyahu to show his support for the two-state solution with deeds rather than words, telling Israel’s Channel 2 that “it would require actions, not words” to reinstate the faith in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

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