Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened this week’s Cabinet meeting by speaking about the recent announcement that Israel will be resuming negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
“The negotiations will not be easy,” Netanyahu warned his ministers.
“But we are going into it with honesty, sincerity, and hope that the process will be conducted seriously and responsibly,” he continued.
Netanyahu tied the issue to the legacy of Menachem Begin, who was born 100 years ago today. “Begin understood security first and foremost. He did not hesitate to act… He attacked Saddam Hussein’s reactor in Iraq, and I think history has taught us how important that step was,” he said.
“We are just as dedicated to peace and security. We are currently making an effort to restart the diplomatic process, I see this as a vital strategic interest.
“First of all we want peace. Alongside this, I am committed to two goals, and it must be clear that they must shape the outcome as well… First of all, if there will be [an agreement], it will be brought to a referendum. I believe that this is vital,” he continued.
“I do not think that decisions like these can be made, if an agreement is reached, in some coalition deal or another, but rather, a thing like this must be brought to the nation,” he declared.
“One of my goals for the process itself is preventing the creation of a binational state between the Jordan and the sea, while at the same time preventing the creation of another terrorist state sponsored by Iran.
“We will need to find the balance between these two things, and our negotiating partners will need to make concessions, too, that will allow us to defend our security and our vital national interests,” he said.
Minister Uri Orbach of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction spoke at the Cabinet meeting as well, and denied reports that the government had agreed to free terrorist prisoners – one of PA Chairman Abbas’ former preconditions for talks.
“Freeing terrorists isn’t the price one pays for beginning negotiations. Israel is going in with no preconditions,” he stated.