Netanyahu faces tough task over peace talks with Palestinians

Last Updated: Thursday, January 2, 2014 - 19:03

Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces an uphill task to convince his partymen and right-wing coalition partners to support Israel-Palestinians peace talks, as they warned that any deal should not be suicidal for the state of Israel.

"We are ready to continue negotiating, but this government cannot commit to positions that completely contradict the principles of the Likud," Ze`ev Elkin, Deputy Foreign Minister from the ruling Likud party, said.

While negotiating peace is good, it shouldn`t be done "at the risk of suicide for the state of Israel", he told Israel Radio today.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry later today during his tenth visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank since taking office in March.

The US diplomat, who revived direct talks in July after a three-year deadlock, has faced fierce opposition from both Israelis and Palestinians in his efforts to secure a "framework" for a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement by April when the nine-month negotiating period would expire.

Israel`s deputy defence minister insisted the government should reject any bridging proposals that entail Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 ceasefire lines as the basis for a final agreement with the Palestinians.

However, the Palestinian leadership have said they entered the negotiations to reach a solution that would immediately lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem its capital, on all the lands that were occupied in 1967.

During his four-day visit, Kerry hopes to achieve consensus on core issues, including security, borders, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.

Another lawmaker of the ruling party and the Speaker of the Knesset (Israeli parliament), Yuli Edelstein, also warned against making "security concessions" to Palestinians "that will only make the chances of peace more remote and seriously endanger the security of the state".
The Minister for Economy, Naftali Bennet, said his Bayit Yehudi (The Jewish Home) party will not remain in Netanyahu`s government if it officially adopts peace proposals presented by Kerry, even if reservations are presented, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Bayit Yehudi lawmakers are reportedly in touch with Likud members opposed to the deal and their strategy is to convince the ruling party members to make sure that their party is not replaced by Labour in the coalition.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, January 2, 2014 - 19:03

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