Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a delegation of 26 U.S. lawmakers Wednesday that direct talks are the only way to reach peace with the Palestinian Authority.
The Congress members, led by Representative Steny Hoyer, are visiting Israel together with their spouses, some for the first time.
During their meeting, the prime minister told the group that he is committed to seeking peace with the PA.
However, he added, “The only way to achieve [that] peace between us and the Palestinians is through direct negotiations. We are ready and willing to launch negotiations without any preconditions,” he added.
However, he warned, “If the UN accepts the unilateral Palestinian move, the prospects for reaching peace will be hurt,” he warned.
Earlier in the day, President Shimon Peres gave a similar message to the lawmakers, predicting that the PA bid for United Nations recognition as an independent country will only make matters worse between the entity and the Jewish State.
“The U.N. declaration of a Palestinian state will be devoid of any meaning, and will only prolong the conflict,” Peres warned. The president expressed his hope that instead, the PA would return to the negotiating table with Israel before September. “Both the Palestinians and the Israelis understand that the alternative to peace is a succession of unfortunate mistakes,” he said.
The Congressional delegation is visiting Israel under the auspices of the America-Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee).