Jerusalem: Just ahead of renewed talks with
the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on
today restated what he said were essential components of a
peace agreement, chief among them recognition of Israel as the
Netanyahu is to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas
in Washington on Thursday for the first direct negotiations
since the Palestinians broke off talks in December 2008, when
Israel staged a bloody offensive into the Gaza Strip.
Speaking to reporters at the start of the weekly cabinet
meeting, Netanyahu said 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."
The Palestinians object to endorsing Israel as
essentially Jewish, as that would imply that were dropping
their claim that refugees who fled or were expelled when
Israel was created in 1948, and their descendants, should be
able to reclaim former homes now within Israel.
Netanyahu said he would also be seeking "real security
arrangements on the ground" that would prevent a recurrence in
the West Bank of events that took place in the Gaza Strip
after Israel pulled out in 2005 and in south Lebanon
after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000.
The Islamist Hamas seized control in Gaza and used the
coastal strip as a launching pad for attacks into Israel.
Lebanon`s Shiite Hezbollah fought a bloody war with the Jewish
state in 2006.