Netanyahu, Abbas Pessimistic About Continuing Talks


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The possibility of continuing peace talks with the Palestinians is "not particularly good," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

We "hope that the Palestinians will stay in the talks in order to reach, in the end, concrete negotiations between us on a peace agreement," Netanyahu said Sunday at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said the Palestinians in talks in Jordan would not discuss Israel's security needs, and thus "the signs are not particularly good. But I hope that they will come around and continue the talks so that we might advance toward real negotiations."

Last week, according to reports, Israel presented the Palestinians with its concept of the borders and security plan for a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians said the presentation, which was not written down, was not good enough.

The plan would have preserved most Jewish settlements and did not include Jerusalem or the Jordan Valley, Reuters reported, citing Palestinian sources.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas said over the weekend that Israel "foiled" the five rounds of exploratory talks in Amman that were held in order to lead to serious peace talks.

"By not presenting a clear vision on the issues of borders and security, as the Quartet demanded, Israel foiled the exploratory talks in Amman," Abbas said in published remarks.

Israel has called on the Palestinians to remain at the negotiating table. Abbas has said he will consult with the Arab League at a meeting on Feb. 4 on whether to continue the talks.

Also Sunday, Netanyahu called on the Palestinian Authority to condemn an official Palestinian television report that glorified the killers of West Bank family members.

In the broadcast, the mother and aunt of Hakim Awad, 18, who with his cousin was convicted of murdering five members of the Fogel family in the Itamar settlement in March 2010, called him a "legend" and a "hero."

"We demand a prompt condemnation," Netanyahu said following a meeting with Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore. "I hope you demand a condemnation because the only way to move to peace is to prepare our people for peace and not for brutal terror.

"They murdered the three little children and the parents, and they were on official Palestinian television presented as martyrs and heroes. This comes on the heels of the Palestinian mufti's call to murder Jews wherever they are, also broadcast on official Palestinian Television."

Awad and his cousin Amjad both are serving five consecutive life sentences for the murders.

The broadcast, first reported by the media watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch, took place on a weekly show focusing on Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

The aunt read a poem she had written in the killers' honor.