In London, Netanyahu Says Israel, U.S. Close to Deal on Settlements

By Barak Ravid (Haaretz) and Agencies

Published August 25, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel and the United States are nearing a compromise that would allow for the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians as well as “normal life” for Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

During a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street in London, Netanyahu also held firm on his stance that Israel will not limit Jewish construction in East Jerusalem.

The settlers need kindergartens and homes for their families, the Israeli premier said, adding that this does not mean that this would necessitate expropriating more land in the West Bank. “Jerusalem is not a settlement, and Israel will not accept limits on its sovereignty there,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu said that progress in the Middle East peace process would “confound cynics and surprise the world.”

The prime minister said he had outlined what he called the “winning formula” for Middle East peace.

“We need a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes Israel,” Netanyahu told reporters after the one-hour meeting. “Recognition is the pillar of peace.”

Brown reiterated his government’s position that continued construction in settlements poses an obstacle to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though he added that there appears to be progress on the issue.

The British prime minister said a freeze on settlement construction is likely to pave the way for normalization gestures by Arab states toward Israel.

Netanyahu says Israel had taken steps in easing Palestinian movement in the West Bank by lifting roadblocks and showed its willingness to make peace by expressing support for a Palestinian state. The Israeli leader said it was now incumbent on the Palestinians to demonstrate “courageous leadership.”

“We hope to move forward in the next months and weeks,” said the Israeli leader.

“With the help of our friends in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere we can achieve progress that will confound the cynics and surprise the world,” he added.

He urged the Palestinian leadership to move forward in a “courageous” way and tell their people: “It’s over, there is going to be real, final peace.”

On the vexed issue of Israeli settlements, Netanyahu said he hoped to find a “bridging formula” that would enable residents already living there to lead a “normal life.”

Netanyahu added that he was disappointed by statements made by Fatah officials during the party conference in Bethlehem earlier this month. Fatah, the premier said, should have adopted an unequivocal position that it was ready for an end to the conflict with Israel and an end to all claims.

On the issue of Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons, Brown said the UN should consider tightening sanctions in the event Tehran refuses to engage in dialogue.

“If there is no further progress immediately then I believe the world will have to look at stepping up sanctions against Iran as a matter of priority,” Brown said.

Asked about the prospect of Iran developing nuclear arms, Netanyahu said: “Time is running out, it is late in the day, but it is not too late.”

Iranian officials have repeatedly refused to curb the nuclear program despite the threat of sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is due to release a report on Iran this week which is likely to strongly influence the international response.

Relations between Britain and Iran worsened after Iran’s June presidential election. Brown accused Iran of “repression and brutality” in crushing protests against the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called Britain “the most treacherous” of Iran’s enemies.

After holding talks with Brown, Netanyahu is due to meet U.S. envoy George Mitchell in London on Wednesday.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels.
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.