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Achieving Peace Shouldn't "Erase" Israel's Rights - Netanyahu

posted 5 Jan 2014, 04:27 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 5 Jan 2014, 04:28 ]

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describes meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Kerry as "comprehensive", but says Palestinians must recognise Israel's right to exist.

JERUSALEM (JANUARY 5, 2014) (REUTERS) - Palestinian unwillingness to recognise Israel's right to exist was discussed among other core issues during "comprehensive" talks between Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the Israeli premier said on Sunday (January 5).

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Kerry is on a continued U.S. push toward a final peace agreement, which Washington hopes to achieve by the end of April, with a shorter-term pursuit of a framework deal that would pave the way for a permanent accord.

Netanyahu said that one of the core issues that topped his conversations with Kerry was Palestinians' resistance to recognise Israel's right to exist.

"The Palestinians continue to resist, first and foremost, to a recognition of the Jewish state, our right to be here, a total negation. Everything that we see grows out of this poisoned root. There are also many other things but this is a fundamental problem. We face it in our talks with Secretary of State John Kerry - serious, comprehensive, fraught talks during which this issue arises as well as other core issues, on top of which is obviously Israel's security that must remain in Israel's hands," Netanyahu told a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

"This is our country. We are not strangers in Jerusalem. We are not strangers in (West Bank Jewish settlement of) Beit El, we are not strangers in (the West Bank city of) Hebron. We know that we want to reach an achievement but this achievement cannot erase the rights of the state of Israel and the rights of the Jewish people, and the fundamental right for a Jewish nation state," he added.

After arriving in Jerusalem on Thursday (January 2), Kerry said Israeli and Palestinian leaders were nearing the point, or were already at it, where they would have to make tough decisions. He pledged to work with both sides more intensely to try to narrow differences on a framework agreement.

Guidelines in such an accord would address core issues including borders of a future Palestinian state, security, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

The secretary of state, who saw Netanyahu and Abbas separately over the past three days, said he did not intend to impose U.S. ideas, but to "facilitate the parties' own efforts".