Israel PM red-faced at recall of peace talks statement
Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced on Wednesday to recall an official statement on the peace process which appeared to admit Israel`s settlement building was unhelpful in reaching an agreement with the Palestinians.
The reference was made in a joint Israeli-Polish declaration which was to have been read out following a meeting in Warsaw between Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk later on Wednesday.
"The two governments agree on the urgent need to advance towards a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which must be reached through direct negotiations between the sides without pre-conditions," it began.
"Unilateral steps by either of the sides are not useful to achieving a lasting peace," it continued.
The wording is almost identical to that employed by Washington when criticising the impact of Israel`s ongoing settlement construction.
"There must never be any doubt about the legitimacy of the State of Israel and the security its citizens, and the right of the Palestinians to a state," it added.
It was only on Wednesday morning, shortly before Netanyahu took off for Poland, that the statement began making headlines in the media, prompting an embarrassing about-face by the Premier`s office.
Officials close to Netanyahu were quoted by Army radio as saying the Premier had not been consulted over the wording of the statement and demanded it be recalled.
Haaretz news website also quoted Netanyahu`s office as saying staff of National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror had worked on the statement and agreed it with Warsaw, without it being seen by the Premier or by Amidror.
Netanyahu`s office did not respond to calls for a comment on the incident, but Haaretz quoted officials as saying the statement was "only a protocol document" that did not represent the Israeli government`s position.
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