Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), claiming that it was to blame for the collapse of US-brokered peace talks.
Since the last round of the protracted peace process broke down in April, the two sides have been accusing each other of derailing the negotiations.
"For nine months, we negotiated with the Palestinians, but they consistently refused to engage us on our legitimate security concerns," Xinhua quoted Netanyahu as saying Sunday in a recorded speech at a forum at the Brookings Institution, a US think tank.
In defiance of Palestinian outrage and international criticism over Israel`s settlement expansion, including in east Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the talks "didn`t end because Israel announced that it would build apartments in Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem".
"The talks ended because (Palestinian) President (Mahmoud) Abbas chose a pact with Hamas over peace with Israel," added the prime minister, whose country labels Hamas a terrorist organisation.
Netanyahu made the hardline remarks as the Knesset, Israel`s parliament, is set to approve a bill Monday to dissolve itself and set March 17 as the date for early elections. Netanyahu`s Likud party will hold an internal election to determine who will be the party`s top candidate in the national race.
For the Palestinian side, veteran negotiator Saeb Erekat had said in late October that the Israeli government should be held fully responsible for the collapse of the peace talks and the ensuing deterioration of the situation.
"The only thing Israel seeks for now is to undermine the choice of the two-state solution and impose an apartheid regime in the occupied Palestinian territories," he said in a press statement.
Also speaking at the Brookings Institution forum Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that realising peace in the Middle East was not a "pipe dream" and that his country would continue to mediate talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
"There should be no question that a two-state solution... is the only path to peace," he stressed.