Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told British officials Tuesday in London that Israel would not stop building in any area of its capital city. Netanyahu was in the British capital to meet with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
At the front entrance to Number 10 Downing Street, where the meeting took place, hundreds of protesters yelled epithets such as "Netanyahu's a war criminal." Others shouted "Free Palestine" and waved signs proclaiming "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine" and "Let the Palestinians live."
Prime Minister Netanyahu, accompanied by Israeli Ambassador to London Ron Prosor, entered the building through the back entrance, where they were met by Prime Minister Brown. All three were flanked by security details.
Following the meeting, the two prime ministers held a joint news conference at which their differences were made clear. Despite Brown's insistence that the UK is a loyal friend to the Jewish State and supports the Israel-PA "peace process" the British prime minister underscored the UK demand that Israel halt construction in Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem restored in 1967.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's response made it equally clear that he was having none of it.
"Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is the sovereign capital of the State of Israel, and Israel will not accept limits on its sovereignty there," he told reporters bluntly. "We have been building in Jerusalem for 3,000 years."
Moreover, growing Jewish families in the existing communities of Judea and Samaria need schools for their children and homes to live in, he added. "This is different from grabbing land," he emphasized, and said he hoped to find a "bridging formula" that would enable Jews living in the regions to live a "normal life."
Israel has already removed more than 140 security checkpoints and roadblocks, Netanyahu pointed out, adding that it is now time for the Palestinian Authority to exhibit "courageous leadership" and recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland.
He also discussed his disappointment with the inflammatory rhetoric that came out of the recent Sixth Annual Fatah General Assembly held in Bethlehem, at which PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was elected to another five-year term as the faction's leader. Fatah, he said, should have adopted a straightforward stance that it is willing and ready for an end to the conflict with Israel and all claims.
Noting that he had come forward and expressed his support for a PA state, Netanyahu said the PA leadership should reciprocate. "We need a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes Israel," he said. "Recognition is the pillar of peace."
Fatah Convention: Incitement, No Peace
The convention, held earlier this month, appeared to be anything but a gathering of PA activists seeking peace, despite the generous financial support of the U.S. government, which gave Fatah $50 million to cover conference expenses, according to a report in the Syrian daily Al-Watan that was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The paper said that the financial support was an attempt to strengthening Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. However, said the paper, the U.S. rejected Abbas' request for permission to fire Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti was elected to the faction's Central Committee. Also elected, according to the preliminary results, were Jibril Rajoub and Mohammed Dahlan. Not making the list was former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, who had also served as head negotiator between the PA and Israel.
Delegates to the convention applauded loudly at the mention by Qureia of two terrorists who committed the worst terror attack in Israel's history.
In their final meetings, the delegates approved a resolution stating that Jerusalem is an "integral part of the Palestinian homeland and political entity." The holiest city in Judaism is "awaiting our sacrifices," stated the resolution, which Fatah committed itself to carry out "until Jerusalem returns to the Palestinians void of settlers and settlements."
Time Running Out on Iran
Netanyahu also told reporters that although Iran is not yet capable of completing construction of a nuclear weapon, the window of opportunity within which to stop the Islamic Republic from doing so is growing smaller.
The prime minister said that, "Time is running out, it is late in the day, but it is not too late."
His British counterpart said, "If there is no further progress immediately [on talks to suspend Iran's nuclear development activities], then I believe the world will have to look at stepping up sanctions against Iran as a matter of priority."