National Security Adviser: Israel can't rule out interim agreement with Palestinians
Uzi Arad says it is unclear whether Israel has a partner for a permanent agreement, confirms that U.S. made written commitments on incentives package.
National Security Adviser Uzi Arad said Saturday in an interview with Channel 2 that an interim agreement with the Palestinians cannot be ruled out.
"It is unclear whether we have a partner for a permanent agreement," said Arad, who accompanied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his recent United States visit.
"If a permanent agreement won't be reached, I don't think we should rule out the possibility of solutions that are less than a permanent settlement," he told Channel 2.
Arad emphasized that Israel must examine closely whether it has a willing partner for peace.
"Do we have a partner who is ready to take the same steps for peace that the prime minister said he will take? Do we have a willing Palestinian partner?," Arad asked.
Arad claimed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been avoiding peace talks with Israel for a year now, but stressed that Israel must continue pushing forward with attempts to restart negotiations.
"We have faced continuous refusal from Abbas to hold direct talks even though we haven't demanded any kind of precondition from him. He isn't willing to agree to terms that he was willing to in the past when [Ehud] Olmert was prime minister," Arad said.
Arad also confirmed for the first time that the United States has made a written commitment not to pressure Israel to stop West Bank construction again if it accepts an incentives package aimed at reviving Mideast peace talks.
Arad also said payment agreements need to be worked out regarding the sale of F-35 stealth fighters to Israel as part of the package.
Under the deal, Israel will refrain from construction in the West Bank as part of a 90-day settlement freeze U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has requested in exchange for a package of incentives.