Let no one be mistaken, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Likud members Tuesday evening: Time and time again, Israel has gone out of its way and bent over backwards to get Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table, but has been rebuffed every time.
“We are a nation that seeks peace,” Netanyahu said at a pre-New Year get-together, a day before he is set to leave for the UN General Assembly, where he is to speak Friday.
“We have been attacked over and over by those opposed not only to our state, but to our existence. This is the basic truth, and we will say it at the United Nations.”
Netanyahu said that he appreciated the warm welcome he received from those attending the event, which will probably contrast with the far less positive reception his speech at the UN was likely to generate. But it didn't matter, he said; Israel could not afford to make the concessions demanded of it by the PA and western countries.
Warning against falling for a peace deal hastily put together that would not take Israel's security needs into account, Netanyahu said that “major concessions by Israel would probably be greeted warmly by world leaders, but in the end it would cause missile attacks on the entire country. The road to peace lies with direct negotiations, and not through detours at the UN,” he added.
Echoing Netanyahu's comments on who was being intransigent on negotiations, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in an interview on Israel TV that Israel was more than ready to reopen talks with Abbas – but that the decision was up to the PA chief. “We, along with members of the Quarter, are making mighty efforts to get Abbas to meet the Prime Minister.”
So far, he added, all efforts have failed; it appears that Abbas is just not interested in talking, but in forcing an outcome on Israel. “The whole idea of going to the UN was a refusal on their part to discuss issues with us, and an attempt to force us to accept their position,” Ayalon said of the PA's strategy, adding that Abbas wasn't really interested in peace, but “in his place in history. When you sign a deal, you cannot aid in the abrogation of that deal. Otherwise what value do future deals have?”