JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinians will not achieve a state without first recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and sitting down to direct negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu made his remarks on Thursday morning, the 65th anniversary of the United Nations approval of the Partition Plan for Palestine and the day of an expected vote on granting the Palestinians enhanced status at the international body.
"Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected," Netanyahu said during a visit to the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. "The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all.
"None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today, and that is why Israel cannot accept it. The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties directly; through valid negotiations between themselves, and not through U.N. resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests. And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards."
Netanyahu also directed a message to the delegates to the U.N. General Assembly gathering in New York for Thursday’s vote: "No decision by the U.N. can break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel."
Meanwhile, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in letter published on the Daily Beast’s Open Zion Blog that he does not oppose the Palestinian’s U.N. bid, which is counter to official Israeli policy. The letter was printed in a post by Hebrew University professor Bernard Avishai.
Olmert wrote, "I believe that the Palestinian request from the United Nations is congruent with the basic concept of the two-state solution. Therefore, I see no reason to oppose it. Once the United Nations will lay the foundation for this idea, we in Israel will have to engage in a serious process of negotiations in order to agree on specific borders based on the 1967 lines and resolve the other issues. It is time to give a hand to, and encourage, the moderate forces amongst the Palestinians. Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad need our help. It’s time to give it.”
Abu Mazen is another name for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; Fayyad is the PA prime minister.
On Wednesday, Arab-Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi arrived in New York to support the Palestinians during the General Assembly vote. His trip elicited anger from right-wing Knesset members.