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Netanyahu recognizes Palestinian claim to the land

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak of conceding territory and sharing the land with the Palestinian people when talks are formally launched.

"The Jewish people are not strangers in our homeland, the land of our forefathers," Netanyahu says in a speech to be delivered Wednesday evening when he meets with President Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House that was distributed to reporters beforehand. "But we recognize that another people share this land with us. And I came here to find an historic compromise that will enable both peoples to live in peace, security and dignity."

Netanyahu said his overriding concern will be ensuring security for Israelis before concessions are in place.

"We left Lebanon, we got terror. We left Gaza, we got terror," he said. "We want to ensure that territory we concede will not be turned in to a third Iranian-sponsored terror enclave aimed at the heart of Israel."

Both statements represent subtle but fundamental changes in how Netanyahu approaches the conflict.

In the past, including in his 1996-99 tenure as prime minister, Netanyahu spoke of concessions only in begrudging recognition of prior agreements, and recognized only a Jewish claim in the Land of Israel, the historical area comprising Israel and the West Bank.

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