Akunis: PA Won't Accept Israel, 'Not Ready' for a State
In an interview Thursday, Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis said that while he favored the idea of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, he didn't think they would lead anywhere. Speaking on Israel Radio, Akunis said that “the Palestinians themselves are not ready for a state, and not even for an expanded self-rule.”
Between their refusal to restrain terror groups, their continuing incitement against Israel's existence, and their refusal to compromise on even a single issue, “the PA has made clear that it is not a partner for peace,” said Akunis. “Prime Minister Netanyahu has many times called for a return to negotiations, and they won't even sit and talk with us.” Responding to the question of Israel's continued building in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem as a factor in the PA's recalcitrance, Akunis said the point of negotiations was to do just that – negotiate, at the table, and not to impose preconditions.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated Israel's desire to enter into talks with the PA. “Israel is ready for the resumption of direct negotiations for peace without pre-conditions,” Netanyahu said at a press conference in Poland with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. “I think it's time to stop negotiating about the negotiations. I think we have to start peace talks immediately. My goal is to see a historic compromise that ends the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians once and for all. This will entail a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, with iron clad security arrangements for Israel – recognition, security, demilitarization. I believe that these are the elements for peace.”
Commenting on Akunis' thoughts, Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On told Israel Radio that the statements made recently by Danon, as well as other government officials, including Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon and Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin – both of whom said in the past week that Israel would continue to build in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem - “unveiled the true face of this government. Netanyahu is not serious about negotiating. He is dragging his feet and ignoring real peace efforts, like the one offered by the Arab League,” which demands a full Israeli withdrawal from all of Judea and Samaria and much of Jerusalem.