Netanyahu: Only I can bring support for peace

Pessimistic Israeli prime minister calls for "direct negotiations" with Palestine until a compromise is reached

Published January 11, 2011 8:04PM (EST)

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that only his government can ensure the support of the Israeli people for a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu appealed for direct negotiations with the Palestinians until an agreement is reached. He expressed pessimism, charging that the Palestinians have avoided peace talks.

"You want to negotiate peace, sit down and negotiate," he said. "There is no other way to achieve peace."

Netanyahu, who heads a hawkish government, insisted that his coalition partners would not prevent a peace accord. Also, he said, "I believe that if I bring a peace agreement ... I will bring the support of the Israeli public." He added, "I'm the only prime minister who can deliver that. But the Palestinians are walking away from that."

Palestinians have said they will not resume peace talks unless Israel halts construction in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem, lands the Palestinians claim for a state.

Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel must maintain a presence in the Jordan Valley, the eastern edge of the West Bank. Palestinians oppose that.

Netanyahu said that extremists took over south Lebanon and Gaza after Israel withdrew, and "we need to have some safeguards that we don't repeat this a third time."

By Associated Press

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