Anyone who checks the facts can see that Israel wants peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday, adding that he did not see the Palestinians also pursuing a solution.
Speaking at the annual Eilat Journalists Conference, Netanyahu said his aspiration was to complete the peace process, and his government has made great strides toward advancing the process, but that he did not see "the same determination on the other side."
"I see the presentation of preconditions that were not there before from the first minute. I see going to the International Court to promote this absurd thing called the Goldstone report. You can't reach peace if the horizon is moving away, and it is moving away because of the stereotype," Netanyahu said, referring to common perceptions of him being a hawk.
"An agreement will be difficult. We will have to make concessions. That will mean overcoming, abandoning tactical moves to a great extent, and that is a strategic decision," said Netanyahu, who also spoke at last year's conference. "It is not clear to me that the head of the [Palestinian] Authority has decided [to move ahead on the peace process.] They have to make the move because only someone who starts - finishes. There is an opportunity here, from an economic perspective too, and because an international coalition is coming together against Iran and its proxies, and because the people in Israel and the Palestinians themselves are tired and want to reach peace already. I hope the Palestinians will decide to advance peace."
Netanyahu reminded his audience that last year he discussed the deep economic crisis the country was in. Yesterday, he pledged to implement a number of steps, including the building of roads, freeing up land for construction and "a revolution in the planning and construction committees."
"The combination of land, fast transportation and simplifying planning will allow the Israeli economy to grow," the premier said.
Netanyahu also focused on the creation of an international front against the Iranian nuclear program, which he said the government was working "tirelessly" to promote. He noted that last week's strongly worded decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency against Iran, made as a result of U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts, was "important progress, especially as Russia and China had signed on against the Islamic Republic.
"Efforts must continue to focus real pressure and real sanctions," Netanyahu said.
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