Israel has "desire" for talks, Palestinians should too - Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday called on the Palestinian leadership to not look "for excuses" to avoid direct peace negotiations and to drop their preconditions for such talks, DPA reported.
Defending his policies in a special Knesset session called by the opposition, he also blamed the Palestinians for not wanting to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
"I know we have the desire to advance (the political process)," Netanyahu told the Israeli parliament. "I hope that the Palestinian Authority will also demonstrate such a desire, and that they are not looking for excuses to avoid talks."
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in early September but fell into limbo at the end of that month, when Israel did not renew a 10-month partial freeze on construction at its West Bank settlements.
Abbas has said there will be no further negotiations unless Israel renews the construction moratorium.
Apparently referring to his demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Netanyahu said on Wednesday that "the cost of an agreement is first and foremost to recognize that we will be here."
"We have not seen these conditions ripen," he added.
If the recently launched direct talks failed, Netanyahu said, then it will be "because of an assumption made by the Palestinian Authority that perhaps they could circumvent or avoid the need for direct negotiations by moving straight on to international dictates."
The Palestinians have hinted that they may attempt to pursue a United Nations Security Council resolution or convince the United States to recognize the pre-1967 lines as the borders of a future Palestinian state if the direct talks fail.
Wednesday's parliamentary debate had been initiated by the centrist Kadima party of former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, on what it described as Israel's international isolation caused by Netanyahu's policies.
The opposition leader accused Netanyahu, of the nationalist Likud party, of having turned Israel into a gridlocked country.
She also slammed government officials who earlier Wednesday had said on condition of anonymity that the result of midterm elections in the United States worked in Israel's favour because it would ease Washington's pressure to freeze Israeli settlement construction.
"Have you gone mad?" Livni asked. "To think that Israel needs a weak US president not only is irresponsible, it is dangerous."
Two Likud lawmakers were ushered out of the Knesset when they interjected Livni's address.