Summary: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he intended to embark on negotiations with the Palestinians honestly, but assured ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that he would stand his ground on Israel’s security needs throughout the talks.
“I am committed to two objectives that must guide the result … if there will be a result. And if there will be a result, it will be put to a national referendum,” he said at the start of the cabinet meeting, two days afterU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations were due to begin next week in Washington. “Negotiations with the Palestinians will not be easy but we are entering them with integrity, honesty and hope.
“Our negotiating partners will have to make concessions that enable us to preserve out security and crucial national interests,” Netanyahu said, adding that the negotiations would be conducted in a responsible, serious and businesslike fashion and that “at least in the early stages they will also be carried out discreetly.”
Kerry made his announcement on Friday following six visits to the region within four months and countless hours in talks with Netanyahu and Abbas.
In his first comments on the matter on Saturday, Netanyahu called the resumption of peace talks “an essential strategic interest for Israel,” important not only for ending the conflict with the Palestinians, but also significant in light of the Iranian threat and the civil war raging in Syria.