Netanyahu: Israel ready for talks with Syria, no preconditions
Clinton: U.S. will get Israel to commit to 2-state solution; PM aide: Focus on two states 'childish and stupid.'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after talks with U.S. President Barack Obama that Israel was ready to immediately open peace talks with Syria without preconditions.
"There was agreement that we must immediately launch peace talks," Netanyahu told reporters at Ben-Gurion Airport after three days of talks in Washington.
"I said I was ready to immediately open peace talks with the Palestinians, by the way, with the Syrians as well, of course, without preconditions," Netanyahu said. "But I made it clear that any peace settlement there must find a solution to Israel's security needs".
Netanyahu, who took office seven weeks ago, had appeared cool to the idea of reopening stalled talks with Damascus. He has repeatedly voiced opposition to pulling out of the Golan Heights, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War which Syria wants returned as part of any peace deal."
Netanyahu also said that he and Obama concurred that the wider Arab world should be involved in the Middle East talk.
"There was agreement on the need to widen the peace process to include Arab countries - in other words, not only that Israel must provide answers and the Palestinians must provide answers, but Arab countries must provide concrete answers at the beginning stage of the process," he said. "In the coming weeks and days we will begin a round of talks with an America to work on these points."
Netanyahu said Tuesday, after a day of meetings on Capitol Hill with U.S. lawmakers, that Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel was prepared to relaunch peace talks with the Palestinian Authority immediately.
Concluding his three-day trip in Washington, the prime minister said that he and Obama were "working together to reignite the peace process and are looking for ways to bring external sources from the Arab world into the process."
The U.S. officials reiterated throughout their talks with the Israeli leader that Washington is committed to a two-state solution and will not tolerate continued settlement activity in the West Bank.
Clinton: U.S. will get Israel to agree to two states
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Al-Jazeera in remarks aired Wednesday that the U.S. believes Israel and the Palestinian Authority would agree to its follow through with a two-state solution, despite the various obstacles that have hindred the process.
"We have a team in this Administration, and we are looking for partners. We think that the Palestinian Authority is ready to be a partner," she said. "We believe through our efforts we will get the Israelis to make the kind of commitment to a two-state solution that is absolutely necessary.
"We know that many leaders in the Arab world see this in a different way, as the Arab Peace Initiative suggests. So let;s try to bring people to that recognition, and that includes Hamas," she added.
Netanyahu aide: Two-state solution is 'childish and stupid
Meanwhile, an aide to Netanyahu said Wednesday that media focus on the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, favored by President Barack Obama, is childish and stupid.
The aide, Ron Dermer, spoke to The Associated Press after Netanyahu and his entourage arrived home from Washington. He denied that he had called the two-state concept itself childish and stupid, as he was quoted earlier as saying as an anonymous official briefing reporters on the plane carrying Netanyahu home.
Obama has made it clear that the U.S. backs creation of a Palestinian state, but Netanyahu has not endorsed the concept.
"I told reporters that the focus by the media on the concept of solving the Israel-Palestinian issue through a two-state solution is childish and stupid, but I deny that I described the idea that way," Dermer said.