Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday night that Israel would soon know whether peace was possible, stressing that Israel would not be obliged to agree to all the terms of the framework document that was being drawn up by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
In a speech that was largely focused Israel's economic opportunities and its potential to become a global economic power, Netanyahu told the seventh conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv that Israel confronted three main challenges – Iran, the peace process and the global economy.
"Israel will not be obligated to agree with everything the Americans put forth in the framework agreement," Netanyahu said during his speech, and described what he sees as the main challenges facing Israel in peace negotiations.
Netanyahu said that Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and robust security measures were the key to reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
The premier emphasized that he doesn't want a binational state, but "I also don’t want another terror state on our borders. We need to achieve both those goals."
Arab opposition to the existence of the Zionist state has always been the root of the conflict, Netanyahu said. "It is not about the settlers, nor even about a Palestinian state – to which Israel has already agreed. There is only one cause: opposition to a Jewish state."
The prime minister made no mention of settlements or the idea he floated late last week that settlers could live under Palestinian sovereignty.
"We say that the solution to the conflict is two sovereign states and mutual recognition. The Palestinians must recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people."
The other Israeli requirement, Netanyahu said, is strong security arrangements, including an Israel Defense Forces presence in the Jordan Valley. "We don’t want to rule over the Palestinians, but the meaning of the necessary security measures is that some of their sovereignty will need to be limited."
He summed up by saying "The solution is a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes Israel as the Jewish state. That is the only solution that will work."
Netanyahu also said that Palestinian incitement, which had been going on for 90 years in schools, media, mosques and from the leadership, had to end.
Regarding Iran, Netanyahu said that, whatever the debates going on in Tehran, "there is no disagreement about the goals of developing nuclear weapons and wiping Israel off the map. Sanctions may have slowed the process but they didn't stop it.
Iran, he said, had stated that its nuclear program was for peaceful for purposes only. But "Iran has invested $40 billion in developing its nuclear capacity and suffered another $140 billion in damages due to sanctions. No country absorbs such losses for something they it doesn't intend doing. Iran wants nuclear weapon and we intend to stop that."
It was and remains Israeli policy that Iran won't be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, the prime minister said. Nor would Israel allow Iran to create another terror state alongside Israel, as it has done with Lebanon and Gaza.
Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that, from a security standpoint, the Palestinian Authority is not a responsible neighbor on which Israel can rely. Speaking at the conference at Tel Aviv University, Ya’alon noted that last year the PA arrested more than 1,000 people associated with Hamas in the West Bank, but none were ever brought to trial.
“As long as they educate 3-year-old children at ceremonies to wear explosives belts and when Israel doesn’t appear on their maps, there is no prospect for peace,” Ya’alon said at the Institute for National Security Studies. The Palestinians are not prepared to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, he added, and don’t agree to a peace agreement that includes recognition that the conflict with Israel is at an end and settles all of their claims against Israel.
The INSS, headed by former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, is Israel's most prestigious think tank in Israel dealing with matters of defense and diplomacy.
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