Netanyahu invites Abbas to Knesset in United Nations address


In a wide-ranging speech, Israel’s Prime Minister yesterday urged his Palestinian counterpart to work with him towards peace.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he remains “committed to a vision of peace based on two states for two people” and that “Israel is ready to negotiate all final status issues”. He explained that the obstacle towards achieving this was Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state and that when this is resolved, “we will be able to end this conflict once and for all”.

Netanyahu also sharply criticised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who addressed the forum earlier in the day, accusing him of “poisoning the future” with incitement. Instead, Netanyahu invited Abbas to speak “to the Israeli people in the Knesset in Jerusalem” and said he would “gladly come to speak [at] the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah”.

Taking a regional perspective, Netanyahu also said that “the change taking place in the Arab world offers a unique opportunity to advance peace” as “more than ever, many regional countries recognise that Israel is not their enemy but their ally”. He predicted that “in coming years, we will work together openly” and added that “Israel welcomes the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative,” which proposes a regional rapprochement in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Outlining dangers, Netanyahu insisted: “The greatest threat to my country, to our region, and ultimately to our world remains the militant Islamic regime of Iran.”

He added that Iran threatens regional stability and is “the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism”. Netanyahu vowed that “Israel will not allow… Iran to develop nuclear weapons – not now, not in a decade, not ever”.

Analysing Netanyahu’s speech in Maariv, Ben Caspit says that “on one hand he waxed lyrical about the wonders of Israel,” while “on the other hand he spoke frighteningly about the dangers”. In Yediot Ahronot, Yoaz Hendel says that on the two-state solution, the right-wing “think he’s lying” and the left-wing “are certain” Netanyahu is insincere.