Netanyahu: Creative Thinking Can Remove Obstacles on the Way to Mideast Peace

Speaking to his cabinet following last week's peace summit in Washington, PM says Israel has shown it is willing to go a long way in order to achieve peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority would have to find new and original solutions to the issues standing in the way from achieving a peace deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

summit - Reuters - September 3 2010

Netanyahu made the comments during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, in which he debriefed his ministers on last week's peace summit in Washington.

In his opening remarks, the prime minister said that Israel had "proven in the past that [it is] willing to go a long way in order to achieve peace, but this time, for us to succeed, we must learn from the lessons of the past and think in an original way."

"What is required is creative, novel thinking in order to resolve these complex issues," Netanyahu said.

One of the issues the premier may have alluded to in his remark is Israel's current settlement construction freeze, due to expire on September 26, and which the Palestinians demanded be extended for talks to continue.

Last week, speaking to Army Radio, Netanyahu dismissed a compromise proposal by Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, under which Israel would permit further construction in major settlement blocks near the Green Line, expected to become part of Israel under an eventual peace deal.

"Meridor's comments represent his personal position and not that of the government," Army Radio quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Speaking to Army Radio earlier Sunday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Netanyahu did not mention the settlement freeze during last week's summit, saying the Israeli premier did not "mention the word freezing."

The Palestinian negotiator added, when asked what he thought Israel would decide on the matter, that the PA knows "his position and he knows our position. We will see what will happen in the next few days."

Erekat also told Army Radio he felt the two sides were interested in achieving a viable peace, saying that "the time now is for decisions not for negotiations."