Thursday, April 23, 2009

Netanyahu to offer U.S. three-part plan for peace talks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is developing a "laundry list" that he will present to U.S. President Barack Obama when they meet next month in Washington. The Israeli premier will present Obama with a three-part plan involving halting Iran's nuclear program, closer relations with moderate Arab states and dealing with the Palestinian issue through several channels.

Netanyahu will tell Obama that he will not recognize a nation-state providing Palestinian self-determination if the Palestinians don't recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. From the standpoint of the Israeli prime minister, the requirement that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is a fundamental demand in any negotiations on a final settlement. It is not a precondition to conducting negotiations, but rather necessary to progress towards an agreement.

During the course of negotiations to form his coalition government, Netanyahu revealed that the Olmert government demanded recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in its talks with the Palestinians, but withdrew that demand within just 24 hours because of opposition from the Palestinian negotiators. Netanyahu intends to stop the erosion of the fundamental Israeli positions, as was his position during his prior term as prime minister following the Oslo Accords.

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