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Netanyahu calls on PA to return to peace talks, drop delegitimisation

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to return to peace talks without preconditions, and to focus efforts on peace-making rather than delegitimising Israel in the international arena.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Netanyahu reiterated “the only way we can achieve a lasting peace is through the concept of two states for two peoples – a demilitarised Palestinian state that recognises the Jewish nation state of Israel.” It is a position Netanyahu publicly declared last month in a similar setting with European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini. Also last month, Netanyahu’s new government announced that it would “strive to reach a peace agreement” as part of its agreed policy guidelines and Interior Minister Silvan Shalom has since been appointed to head any future talks. The last round of peace talks, spearheaded by the United States, broke down in April 2014 after the PA agreed a unity government with Hamas.

Netanyahu said yesterday that he had discussed with Steinmeier, the “common quest to move forward on peace with the Palestinians” and to that end “I think the only way to move that is through direct negotiations … Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority has moved away from these negotiations.” He urged Steinmeier to, “Tell the Palestinians to stop their campaign to delegitimise Israel … Tell them to get back to the negotiating table. Tell them that we should negotiate without preconditions.”

Speaking to his cabinet yesterday, Netanyahu elaborated on Palestinian efforts to exclude or attack Israel in international forums. On Friday, the Palestinian Football Association (FA) eventually dropped a motion to suspend Israel from FIFA, football’s world governing body. However, Netanyahu warned that the Palestinian FA initiative formed just part of “a great struggle being waged against the state of Israel, an international campaign to blacken its name.” At its core, said Netanyahu, “this campaign to delegitimise Israel … seeks to deny our very right to live here.”