Netanyahu: We can reach a peace that will last for generations
Israel and the Palestinians can secure an enduring peace agreement in Washington - not just a tactical lull in hostilities, prime minister says.
As he prepared to fly to Washington to renew peace talks with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel had the chance to secure a stable peace that could endure for generations.
"I am convinced that if the Palestinian leadership takes the negotiations as seriously as we do, we can reach a stable agreement - not just a deal for a tactical ceasefire between wars," Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
"We can reach a peace based on stability for us and for our children and that is my goal," he said.
But ahead of Netanyahu's trip to the United States, where U.S. President Barack Obama will formally preside over the reopening of talks on Wednesday, Palestinians still doubt the prime minister's commitment to peace.
Netanyahu has so far refused to address Palestinian demands to continue a 10-month freeze on the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, due to expire on September 26.
Immediately before Sunday's cabinet session, Netanyahu dismissed a proposal by Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, under which construction would restart only in major settlement blocks near the Green Line, expected to become part of Israel under an eventual deal.
"Meridor's comments represent his personal position and not that of the government," Army Radio quoted Netanyahu as saying.
The Palestinians have repeatedly threatened to walk out of talks if building continues and, in the absence of Israeli guarantees, remain cagey on what format the negotiations should take.
On Saturday chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected Netanyahu's proposal to hold a face-to-face meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas every two weeks.
It was too early to determine times, dates and participants in meetings between the sides and the main issue was still the freeze, Erekat said.