Netanyahu 'wants a demilitarized Palestine'

At launch of Knesset's summer session, PM says he is ready for 'courageous steps'; Herzog accuses him of 'slamming the door on change.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Monday at the launch of the Knesset's summer session, declaring that he is willing to take "courageous steps" in order to advance a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

"I aspire to advance towards a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the state of Israel," Netanyahu told the plenum session.

"I am ready for courageous steps with our neighbors aided by other participants in the region, Arab states, that we are also tightening relations with them."

Netanyahu emphasized that "they can establish a state, but it must be demilitarized and recognize Israel." The PA has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

The Prime Minister said he is continuing his efforts to expand the coalition government, amid stalled talks with Yisrael Beytenu chairperson Avigdor Liberman and failed talks with Zionist Union chairperson Yitzhak Herzog.

"I continue in efforts to build a government as wide as possible," said Netanyahu. "The door is open for all who want to lend a shoulder for the benefit of the state."

Opposition head Herzog also spoke before the plenum, where he spoke about the covert talks he held with Netanyahu.

"I chose to endanger my political position and I opened the door to a change of the present and the future of all of us," said Herzog, indicating his demands for a unilateral division of Jerusalem that were rejected.

"Unfortunately, Netanyahu slammed the door. I'm sorry Netanyahu that you again chose to zigzag. Maybe Twitter will remember you well, but history won't," Herzog flung at the Prime Minister.

For his part, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in his speech welcomed the attempts to widen the coalition.

According to Edelstein, leadership is measured by its ability to bridge gaps in positions, and to join together in order to serve the public better.

"Therefore, there was no avoiding the effort made up to now to expand the coalition. The first step made in that direction should be welcomed, and I hope that other Zionist parties will join it," he said.

"It is worthy and right to stand together, better and more unified, against the great challenges set before us," said Edelstein. "This is also an important message facing inwards, to the public in Israel, and also outwards, to all those who are waiting impatiently to see our internal disintegration."