Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
tried to reassure his right-wing Likud bloc in Israel`s ruling
coalition today that he would not bow to territorial
concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians.
"You don`t need to worry. Nobody needs to teach me what
it is to love Eretz Israel," he told Likud members, using a
biblical term for the Land of Israel, at a meeting to prepare
for the Jewish New Year which starts on September 8.
Eretz Israel stretches from the Mediterranean to the
Jordan River, including the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Israeli government has ordered a 10-month partial
moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank
that expires on September 26, with most Likud members opposed
to an extension.
"I`m aware of the difficulties but I believe a peace
accord can be obtained," said Netanyahu on the eve of his
departure for Washington where direct Israeli-Palestinian
talks are to resume Thursday after a 20-month break.
"The government of Israel wants to progress on the path
to peace... We want a real peace, for generations to come, and
only the Likud government can bring about this peace," said
the premier who heads a centre-right coalition.
Yesterday, he said in the run-up to the US-brokered talks
that Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland
is chief among essential components for a peace deal.
An agreement would have to be based "first of all on
recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish
people, an end to the conflict and an end to further demands
on Israel," Netanyahu said.