Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed the Palestinians for the stalled peace process, saying their refusal to negotiate showed they were not interested in peace.
"What is preventing the advent of peace, the advent of peace negotiations is that the Palestinians are doing everything in their power to avoid them," Netanyahu told a meeting of foreign journalists in Jerusalem yesterday. "That is the simple truth."
Netanyahu`s comments came as the United States was attempting, so far unsuccessfully, to revive peace negotiations.
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed after Washington admitted last month it was no longer pressing Israel for a new freeze on settlement building, the Palestinian condition for continuing to
Direct talks began on September 02, but stalled three weeks later with the end of an Israeli moratorium on settlement building. The Palestinians refuse to talk while Israel continues building.
Netanyahu said this showed the Palestinians were not truly interested in reaching a deal with Israel.
"The Palestinians are walking away from peace because they are walking away from negotiations," he said.
The Palestinians have accused Netanyahu of choosing settlements over peace and said they would now explore other options, including seeking recognition from foreign governments and ultimately the United Nations.
In recent weeks, a string of Latin American nations have announced their recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinian leadership has lauded the new recognitions from countries including Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Other nations, including Paraguay and Uruguay are reportedly planning to recognise the state soon.
The Palestinians also plan to seek a United Nations Security Council resolution on Israeli settlement construction, and possibly recognition of a state at a later date.
However, Netanyahu cautioned them against this approach saying it could not bear real fruit.
"The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. They are not going to get an imposed settlement from the outside, it does not work. The only way to get peace is to negotiate peace," he said.
Netanyahu said the coming year would also dispel beliefs that he, and his hard-line coalition, were not interested in inking a deal with the Palestinians.
"If they are prepared to negotiate then they will find -- that this government, my government, this prime minister, me -- that I`m prepared and able to achieve historic peace," he said.
"In 2011 everyone, everyone, will come out of that year knowing who really wants peace."