Despite US Pressure, Israel Insists: No Preconditions for Talks
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's bureau appeared Tuesday to rebuff United States pressure to make immediate gestures toward the Palestinian Authority, when it issued a statement insisting that all preconditions to talks with the PA be dropped.
Reports Monday said that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to Netanyahu on the phone for nearly 45 minutes at week's end and demanded the cancellation of the construction of 1,600 housing units in the northeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. Clinton also reportedly demanded additional Israeli 'gestures' such as the release of Arab prisoners.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) noted that Israel has made efforts in recent months to improve relations with the PA, including the Prime Minister’s speech at Bar Ilan University in which he called for a two-state solution; the removal of hundreds of checkpoints and barriers in Judea and Samaria, and the freeze on construction starts in Judea and Samaria for ten months – a decision that Clinton herself had hailed as unprecedented.
Meanwhile, the PMO stated, “the Palestinians pile on more preconditions for restarting the diplomatic process than they did in the past 16 years.”
Netanyahu's bureau noted further that the PA is “conducting a delegitimization campaign against Israel in international institutions through the Goldstone Report, and continues to incite to hatred and violence, including the decision to dedicate a square in Ramallah to the memory of a terrorist who was responsible for murdering dozens of Israelis.”
"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu again calls upon the Palestinians to enter the tent of peace without preconditions, because this is the only way to reach an arrangement that guarantees peace, security and prosperity to both nations,” the PMO added.