Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations and insisted that Israel wants to achieve peace through talks.
?The truth is Israel wants peace. I want peace,? Netanyahu said. ?The truth is: We cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions. We can only achieve peace through negotiations.?
?I extend my hand to the Palestinian people with whom we seek a just and lasting peace,? Netanyahu told the General Assembly, to a smattering of applause. ?Our hope for peace never wanes.?
He said it would be folly for Israel to trade peace for land without firm security agreements and vowed Israel would be first in line to recognize a Palestinian state in the context of a comprehensive peace deal.
?We need real security arrangements that the Palestinians refuse to negotiate,? he said.
Speaking just minutes after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called for statehood, Netanyahu pilloried the claim that Palestinians are only armed with their ?hopes and dreams.?
?Hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and rockets,? Netanyahu said derisively. ?Would any of you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens??
He called on Abbas to join peace talks without any preconditions and offered to meet in New York while they are both at the U.N.
?President Abbas, let?s get on with it,? he said. ?Let?s negotiate peace? With God?s help, we?ll find the common ground of peace.?
Netanyahu repeated that Israel is only nine miles wide at its smallest point, excluding the West Bank. He noted that it takes just three minutes to fly across Israel and compared it to distances familiar to New Yorkers.
?The people of Brooklyn and New Jersey are considerably nicer than some of Israel?s neighbors,? he said.
He said Palestinians had repeatedly failed to show a commitment to peace. After Israel withdrew from Gaza, Hamas took control in a day, and rained rockets on Israeli citizens, he said.
?We didn?t get peace, we got war,? Netanyahu said.
He chided the U.N. as the ?theater of the absurd? and a ?hall of darkness? for condemning Israel as a racist nation and pouring scorn on its peace deals with moderate neighbors. At the same time, he said the U.N. promotes rogue nations like Saddam Hussein?s Iraq and Gadhafy?s Libya.
?It is here year after year that israel is unfairly singled out for condemnation,? he said. ?You couldn?t make this thing up.?