Netanyahu aide hopes PA peace talks will be renewed within weeks
Uzi Arad: Our priority is to renew the peace talks; Peres: PM can and must make peace with Palestinians.
A key aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Uzi Arad, said on Monday that he hoped stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations would be renewed within the coming weeks.
Arad, the National Security Council chairman, said Israel was not investing all of its efforts in relaunching peace talks with Syria because it did not wish to harm the chances of doing so with the Palestinians.
"Preoccupation with the subject of Syria is likely to be interpreted as an attempt to flee from the Palestinian issue, which is not the case," Arad told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
"The Israeli policy today is to restart the Palestinian process; Israel is making efforts, some of which are coordinated with the United States, in order to renew it."Arad's comments came after President Shimon Peres said peace between Israel and the Palestinians was just a "step away," and urged the Netanyahu government to do everything necessary to ensure an end to the conflict during its tenure.
"Today, there is just one step left between us and the end of this conflict," said Peres. "The current government can and must do it. The painful solution of dividing the land, two states for two peoples, was something the [Israel's first prime minister] David Ben-Gurion took on himself, and today it is accepted by the majority of the nation.
The president spoke during a memorial ceremony marking 36 years since Ben Gurion's death, at Sde Boker in the Negev.
At the ceremony, both Peres and Netanyahu spoke out against the recent spate of events involving Israel Defense Forces soldiers declaring refusal to heed orders to evacuate West Bank settlements.
Netanyahu reiterated his stance that "there is no place for refusal" or "ideological camps" in the IDF.
"One of Ben Gurion's major ideas was that the army would be of the state, and today in particular, we must return to that concept," he said. "We will fight refusal of orders with every power and means we have. This is in our souls and it is the essence of our existence. There is one IDF, one hierarchy of command. This is how it was and will always be."
The president made similar remarks saying that Israel must preserve its "one army. The army remains regardless of what government has been elected."