Netanyahu Warns Palestinian Bid for Statehood Could Harm Peace Efforts

Speaking after meet with Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister says UN recognition of Palestinian statehood would 'violate the agreements between the Palestinians and Israel.'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel's opposition to any bid to win United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood on Monday and said only direct negotiations could restart the blocked peace process.

Speaking after a meeting in Rome with Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, Netanyahu said any "fiat" issued by the United Nations would hinder the peace process.

"First, it would violate the agreements between the Palestinians and Israel but it would also harden the Palestinian position because if the UN General Assembly adopts the Palestinian positions in advance of negotiations why should they negotiate?" he said.

"So such a resolution is backed by an overwhelming majority including the leading countries of the world, that could actually push peace back by hardening Palestinian positions, by pushing negotiations further away."

Netanyahu said both sides needed to compromise but he offered no details.

"Peace will only come from negotiations. It will be a negotiated peace. It cannot be imposed from the outside, not by any power and certainly not by one-sided UN resolutions," he told a news conference.

The Palestinians currently have the status of UN observers without voting rights but are hoping that at September's General Assembly they can persuade other nations to accept them as a sovereign member.

Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walked out of U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel shortly after they began last September, demanding a halt to building settlements in the West Bank.

Netanyahu with Berlusconi - AP - June 13, 2011