JERUSALEM (JTA) — Unilateral actions to declare a Palestinian state could cause Israel to take unilateral action of its own, Benjamin Netanyahu said.
"The way to achieve peace is through negotiations, cooperation and the agreement of both sides," the Israeli prime minister told the prestigious Saban Forum in Jerusalem Sunday evening. "This is true with regard to security and economic issues, and also with regard to a genuine political process.
"There is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and any unilateral attempt outside that framework will unravel the existing agreements between us and could entail unilateral steps by Israel."
Those unilateral steps, some Netanyahu administration officials said Monday, could include annexing West Bank settlements or halting the transfer of tax money collected for the Palestinian Authority.
The prime minister’s comments came on the same weekend as Palestinian Authority officials said they would ask the United Nations Security Council to recognize an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and Jerusalem as its capital.
Netanyahu stressed that a strong economy and a stable security situation will help bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
He cited the easing of movement in the West Bank and the improvement of the quality of life for Palestinians as ways in which Israel has contributed to a prosperous Palestinian economy that has helped to "eliminate the scourge of poverty and desperation, and strengthen internal forces within Palestinian society that oppose terrorism."
Addressing the main obstacles to Israel’s security, Netanyahu said that Iran must be prevented from developing a nuclear military capability and a solution was against the threat of missile and rocket attacks on Israel from surrounding countries. A new Palestinian state, for example, must be demilitarized and a mechanism installed in which missiles cannot be smuggled in, he explained.
Finally, the Israeli leader said, his country’s right to self-defense must be acknowledged.