Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained succinctly on Sunday why the negotiations with the PA have gone nowhere. He answered a question during the joint press conference he held with visiting Chilean President Sebastián Piñera.
The questioner asked about the lack of direct negotiations between Israel and the PA, implying that Israel could do more to get them going. Netanyahu answered as follows:
"Well, we've been calling for direct negotiations from day one of this government.
"On day one, we called for direct negotiations.
"On day two, I made a speech in Bar Ilan University calling for two states for two peoples.
"On day three, we removed about 400 checkpoints, earth barriers, and other things to facilitate the growth of the Palestinian economy.
"On day four, we agreed to a ten-month moratorium on new construction in the settlements, something that no government did for 18 years before that.
"On day five, we agreed to an extension of that moratorium by three months.
"Unfortunately, everything that we did, these five things, were met with no response by the Palestinian Authority. They just placed preconditions and terms, every way to avoid sitting down and discussing peace. They tried to go around the peace negotiations.
"I'll tell you why: It's because peace is hard. It's been hard for me. It will be hard. You have to make concessions and you have to look at the people in the eye and tell them not everything that we'd hoped for would be possible; there have to be compromises on both sides.
"But whereas Israel and I have been willing to move on this road, I've not seen the parallel [Palestinian] willingness to do the same. Because they’re relying on a Pavlovian reflex of the international community.
"Basically they say: We don't have to negotiate, we can sit back, we can teach our children to idolize mass killers – they named a public square in Ramallah ten minutes from here, for a terrorist who murdered 400 innocent Israelis. They can do that and get away with it.
"Well, they can only get away with it if you let them get away with it. If you tell them clearly, as I think Chile and a few other countries have said: No, come to negotiate, you can't avoid a negation. Come and talk peace. Talk peace to your own people, not only to foreign diplomats or foreign journalists. Talk peace to the Palestinian people.
"Tell them they'll have to give up [hoping for Israel’s destruction]. Tell them Israel is here to stay. Tell them there's going to be a Jewish state next to a Palestinian state forever. Tell them that Israel will not be swamped by the offspring of Palestinian refugees, because we accepted the offspring of Jewish refugees here, and we've made a life for them. You will make a life for them there.
"Tell them that there will be genuine demilitarization of the Palestinian area, so that what we saw in Lebanon, where we walked out and Iran walked in doesn't happen again. So that what we saw in Gaza, when we walked out and Iran walked in, doesn't happen again. So that it doesn't happen a third time.
"A demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state – that is the solution. But we cannot get to the solution; we cannot get to the end of the negotiations if we don't get to the beginning of the negotiation.
"Israel is prepared to begin this negotiation. Israel is prepared to end this negotiation. Therefore the question should be addressed not to me, not to the Prime Minister of Israel. It should be addressed squarely to the Palestinian president and to the Palestinian government. You have another opportunity.
"Next time you're there, ask them this question."