Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made an obligatory appearance at the Knesset plenum on Wednesday to address the Arab League peace initiative, after 40 MKs signed a petition calling on him to do so.
Netanyahu touched on various issues during his remarks but did not discuss the peace initiative at length, saying instead, “The important thing is to not pose preconditions, but to simply enter negotiations. We’re listening to any initiative — the Arab League initiative has been mentioned — and we’re ready to discuss the initiatives that are proposals but not impositions.”
Addressing Abbas in a language that he said they both understand, he appealed to the Palestinian leader to “give peace a chance.”
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin criticized the Palestinians, saying they are unwilling to talk peace despite a renewed push by the United States and Israel.
Instead, Palestinians are opting to pursue a strategy of international recognition alone, said Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin. He made the remarks ahead of another attempt by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to revive peace talks when he returns to the region next week.
“Israel is ready and willing to resume direct peace talks at any moment, it can be done today, tomorrow, in Yerushalayim, in Ramallah, in Rome, anywhere in the world,” Elkin told Israel Radio.
“The world is waiting now for Mahmoud Abbas,” he said.
The Palestinians chief negotiator Saeb Erekat on Tuesday told international diplomats that if talks fail the Palestinians are ready to resume their campaign to join U.N. and other international bodies in order to prosecute Israel.
On Tuesday, International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz made clear that there is a limit to Israel’s flexibility in negotiating peace, and that Israel would resist any attempt to introduce international forces into a peace settlement.
“Some people are speaking about international forces, maybe [in] the Jordan Valley or the hills and border areas, that will take care of Israel’s future security,” Steinitz said in a speech at The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA).
“The principle should be very clear,” he stated. “The Palestinians should be able to control their lives, and we should be able to control our security in our own hands.
“For us, security means survivability, and we have had very negative experiences with international forces so far.”
Steinitz cited as examples the UNIFIL force that entered southern Lebanon following the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and who stood by passively as tens of thousands of missiles were shipped to Hizbullah.
The second example was Gaza, where the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the EU all had different types of security personnel in place following Israel’s 2005 disengagement, but failed to prevent Hamas’s takeover of the territory and the introduction of thousands of rockets and missiles there.
He also stressed the importance of “a total demilitarization of the Palestinian state, and our capacity to preserve, control and secure this demilitarization, come what may.”