Netanyahu: Israel won't agree to 1967 borders
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Haaretz on Wednesday that he would not agree to the Palestinian demand to accept the 1967 borders as a condition for renewing peace negotiations.
Netanyahu also said that U.S. President Barack Obama's speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday was "positive" because "he also said something we had been seeking for six months, that we have to meet and begin the diplomatic process without preconditions."
Obama had spoken "clearly about Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people," said Netanyahu. "I believe that disagreement about this is the root of the conflict."
Netanyahu also pointed out that Obama had made reference to Israeli efforts to improve the Palestinian economy by lifting roadblocks.
Obama speech on Wednesday was one of many from world leaders, and the American president focused a portion of his talk on efforts toward Middle East Peace.
"The goal is clear," Obama told the General Assembly, "two states living side by side in peace and security - a Jewish State of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people."
Referring to Obama's statement Netanyahu said, "The things he said about the occupation are not new. He also said them in Cairo, and in fact that is the formula adopted by the road map and it does not say we have to go back to the 1967 borders.
"This is the formula adopted by governments before the one I head, which did not agree to go back to the 1967 borders. We certainly would [also] not agree to that. In the matter of the settlements he also said nothing new. These disagreements should not prevent the beginning of the process which, among other things if it is successful, will also decide this issue."
Netanyahu said Obama, like other American presidents, reflected the deep basic friendship between the American and the Israeli people, and that "he stood in Cairo before the whole Muslim world and said this relationship would never be severed." Netanyahu added he believed the obligation of the United States to Israel's security was total.
When asked about claims that Tuesday's three-way summit with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Obama would become an excuse for foot-dragging, Netanyahu responded, "not on our part."
Netanyahu told Channel 2 that Obama's speech to the the UN regarding negotiations without preconditions and the two state solution was "an important blessing."
"The president said let's come and resume the peace process without preconditions. As you know I have been saying that for nearly six months. I was happy," Netanyahu said.
However, Israelis and Palestinians said Wednesday that their envoys would meet with U.S. officials but not with each other, cementing the impression that the summit had produced little results.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said there would be no follow-up session with the Israelis because the two sides hadn't bridged the divides that have prevented them from resuming talks.
"It's not happening because we agreed to continue dealing with the Americans until we reach the agreement that will enable us to relaunch the negotiations," Erekat said.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel would dispatch envoys to meet with U.S. officials in Washington, but there were no plans now to meet again with the Palestinians.
He said, however, that it was Israel's "sincere hope that we will see the restart of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks."
The Palestinians refuse to restart talks until Israel freezes settlement construction. They also want talks to restart where they left off before breaking down earlier this year, something Netanyahu has refused.