Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting
Netanyahu at Cabinet meetingIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed pessimism Sunday about the prospects for peace with the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu said that Palestine Liberation Organization negotiator Saeb Erekat refused to discuss even basic core issues at the fifth and final "exploratory" meeting with his Israeli counterpart, attorney Yitzchak Molcho, last week in Amman.

Moreover, PLO officials had already announced prior to the meeting they would refuse to continue talks with Israel after the January 26 deadline for breaking the impasse set by the Quartet of peacekeeping nations -- the U.S., Russia, the EU and the United Nations. 

In remarks at the beginning of the weekly meeting with Cabinet ministers on Sunday, Netanyahu commented, "As of now, according to what has happened in recent days, when the Palestinians refused to even discuss with us the State of Israel's security needs, the signs are not particularly good.

"But I hope that they will come around and continue the talks so that we might advance toward real negotiations," he said, noting that United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon will be arriving in the region shortly.

"I will sit with him and discuss... our hope that the Palestinians will stay in the talks in order to reach, in the end, concrete negotiations between us on a peace agreement," Netanyahu said.

The Prime Minister also told reporters that he had spoken with the heads of the French, British and German governments about the Iranian nuclear threat, and thanked all of them for the passage of European Union sanctions. 

"Last week, I spoke with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  I commended them on the steps that Europe has taken against Iran, against both its petroleum exports and its central bank," Netanyahu said.

He added that he would also meet with Ban over the issue, and "discuss the strengthening and intensifying of these sanctions."