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Israeli minister Steinitz: ‘Very serious territorial concessions’ ahead

(JTA) — Israel is prepared to make “very serious territorial concessions” if the Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel’s Jewish character, senior Israeli minister Yuval Steinitz told a British newspaper.

In an interview published Thursday in The Daily Telegraph, Steinitz, Israel’s international relations minister, told The Daily Telegraph,  “We are ready for a two states for two people solution.

“Both sides will have to make very significant concessions and very difficult concessions. We will probably have to make very serious territorial concessions,” he said in the July 25 interview.

But Steinitz also said that “the Palestinians will have to make also both territorial concessions, because there will be settlement blocks, but more important still they will have to recognize the very existence of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”

Steinitz added that the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war also would have to abandon the “right of return” to their homes.

On Jerusalem, the minister was uncompromising and said the “status quo was the only option.”

Steinitz told The Telegraph that while Israel is “ready” for the two-state solution, it would hold a referendum before ending the conflict, which the Cabinet approved on Sunday. He added that a “demilitarized” Palestinian state was the “only possible solution” to the conflict.

Peace talks are expected to resume next week in the United States following a three-year disconnect.

On Thursday, Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom arrived in Jericho for the first visit by a high-ranking Israeli official to Area A of the West Bank in more than four years, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“We hope that the talks will begin next week in Washington between Israeli and Palestinian representatives,” Shalom said.

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