Daily Israel Report

Netanyahu: Conflict is Not About the 'Settlements'

The Arab-Israeli conflict is rooted in the Arabs' refusal to recognize Israel, Netanyahu tells UN chief.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 8/16/2013, 10:00 PM

The Israeli-Arab conflict has nothing to do with the “settlements” and everything to do with Arab refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told United Nations head Ban Ki-moon on Friday.

Netanyahu and Ban met in Jerusalem, and the Prime Minister asked Ban to look into the UNRWA summer camps in Gaza which are used to delegitimize Israel, call for its destruction and educate Palestinian Authority Arab children to carry out jihad.

“I know, like me, you want to see the peace process which has been resumed, succeed. I know that like me you know that the most important thing is to prepare our respective peoples for peace and in this regard, I’m sure you are going to look into the abuse of UNRWA camps in Gaza that have been used purportedly for peace camps, but actually to instill the culture of hatred and the ideas of destroying Israel amidst Palestinian children,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s very hard to habituate and prepare the next generation for peace when they’re told that Jews are the descendants of pigs and monkeys and that the Jewish State has no right to exist, so I trust that you will make sure that these abuses of UN goals and UN funds does not continue,” he told Ban.

“As far as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, we have to get to the root cause of the problem and the root cause was and remains the persistent refusal to recognize the Jewish State in any boundary,” said Netanyahu. “It doesn’t have to do with the settlements – that’s an issue that has to be resolved, but this is not the reason that we have a continual conflict. The conflict preceded the establishment of a single settlement by half a century and when we rooted out all the settlements in Gaza, the attacks continued because of this basic opposition to the Jewish State. I think it’s important to understand that if we build a few hundred apartments in Gilo or Ramot, or the other Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, or in urban blocks that everybody knows, including the Palestinian negotiating team, according to the Al Jazeera leaks, will be part of the final peace map in Israel, I think these are not the real issues that we need to discuss.”

The real issue, added Netanyahu, “is how to get a demilitarized Palestinian state to finally recognize and accept the one and only Jewish State. These and other matters of course will I’m sure inform our discussions. There are a few other things that I prefer to discuss with you privately, but I do look forward to discussing with you all these and other issues and I welcome you once again, Mr. Secretary, to Jerusalem."

Ban told Netanyahu, “I think my visit is taking place at crucially important timing for the Middle East peace process which you courageously and wisely agreed to resume. I’m here to lend my strong support, of myself and the United Nations and the Quartet. I’m encouraged that Israelis and Palestinians have reengaged in direct dialogue, but for these negotiations to have a chance at success, they need to be meaningful.”

“I also say to the Israeli people that this process should and must lead to increase the security and hope for a more stable region,” said the Secretary-General. “The time is now for Israel to be fully respected as a member of the international community. In this regard, I would very much welcome a more constructive relationship between Israel and the Human Rights Council. I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu recognizes that Israel will never realize its potential internally or externally as long as there is no peace with Israel’s closest neighbors, the Palestinians. The Prime Minister knows that occupying Palestinian land is not the long-term solution to Israel’s regional challenges. I’m here to urge all the leaders to continue along the path to peace and to underscore a shared commitment to walk together to make 2013 a decisive year for Israel-Palestinian peace and peace in the region.”

Earlier on Friday, Ban called on Israelis and PA Arabs to overcome "deep skepticism" that he said risked thwarting efforts to reach a peace agreement.   

"We must overcome the deep skepticism that comes from 20 years of stalemate," Ban said at a meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

"I urge all parties to avoid actions that risk undermining the negotiations," a statement quoted him as saying.

"Both sides need to sustain an environment conducive for the peace process to move forward," he said speaking two days after peace talks resumed in Jerusalem.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)