Netanyahu: At UN, I Will Stress Israel's Desire for Peace With Palestinians

Prime minister accuses the Palestinians of 'spreading blatant lies' about Israeli policies on Temple Mount.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at Ben-Gurion International Airport.Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before flying out to New York for the UN General Assembly that he intends to "highlight Israel's desire for peace with the Palestinians" during  his Thursday speech and his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday. Netanyahu also said he will urge the Palestinians to stop inciting unrest on Temple Mount.

"I will stress that unfortunately, the Palestinians continue to spread blatant lies about our policy on Temple Mount, and I will demand an end to this wild incitement," he said upon arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport. "Israel is committed to the status quo, which it maintains. The Palestinian rioters who bring weapons to Temple Mount are the ones who harm the holy place and are the ones violating the status quo."

Netanyahu said that in his speech, he will discuss Israel's policy in light of the situation in Syria and the threats on Israel's northern border. He added that he intends to explain what Israeli citizens feel after the nuclear agreement with Iran, and what Israel expects from the international community in the wake of that agreement.

"Every time I speak at the United Nations I feel that I have the privilege and the great responsibility of telling the truth to the world for the sake of the State of Israel," said Netanyahu before boarding the plane to New York. "Every day that passes makes it clear that in the collapsing Middle East, where extremist Islam is taking over one area after another, Israel is an island of progress and stability."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Wednesday. Early morning on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the assembly, after over a year of a nearly no contact. Their meeting addressed the Syrian civil war and the Ukraine crisis, but failed to bridge the great divides between the two.

Putin and Obama met several hours after addressing the General Assembly. A senior U.S. official said the meeting lasted about 90 minutes, half of which was spent discussing Ukraine and the half discussing Syria. After the meeting, Putin told reporters the meeting was ""very constructive and surprisingly open."

Late on Monday night, Obama shook hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif - the first handshake between a U.S. president and a senior Iranian official since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. However, a similar greeting did not take place between Obama and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rohani.

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