Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinians are not doing their part to advance the peace process in remarks to reporters before his bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House Monday. Netanyahu began by thanking Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for what he described as their “tireless efforts” to broker a peace deal. He then proceeded to rip into the Palestinians.
“The 20 years that have passed since Israel entered the peace process have been marked by unprecedented steps that Israel has taken to advance peace. I mean, we vacated cities in Judea and Samaria. We left entirely Gaza. We’ve not only frozen settlements, we’ve uprooted entire settlements. We’ve released hundreds of terrorist prisoners, including dozens in recent months,” Netanyahu said. “And when you look at what we got in return, it’s been scores of suicide bombings, thousands of rockets on our cities fired from the areas we vacated, and just incessant Palestinian incitement against Israel. So Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven’t.”
Netanyahu went on to say Israelis want “a real peace” that includes Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state.
“The Palestinians expect us to recognise a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, a nation state for the Palestinian people. I think it’s about time they recognise a nation state for the Jewish people,” said Netanyahu. “We’ve only been there for 4,000 years. And I hope President Abbas does this, as I hope that he’ll take seriously Israel’s genuine security needs.”
Netanyahu concluded by vowing to “stand strong” and defend Israel.
“The only peace that will endure is a peace that we can defend. And we’ve learned from our history — Jewish history, but I think from general history — that the best way to guarantee peace is to be strong,” said Netanyahu. “And that’s what the people of Israel expect me to do — – to stand strong against criticism, against pressure, stand strong to secure the future of the one and only Jewish state.”
Netanyahu’s remarks come on the heels of a lengthy interview Obama gave to Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg in which the president described Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as “a partner on the other side who is prepared to negotiate seriously” and suggested America’s ability to help Israel on the international stage may be limited if there is no peace deal.
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