Netanyahu: Arab peace initiative must be rewritten

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said a long-dormant Arab peace initiative with the Palestinians that he has spoken of reviving must be changed before Israel can support it.

Netanyahu made the comments on Monday night to members of his Likud party, after facing pressure from members of his cabinet over his recent comments on the Arab initiative.

Jewish Home members who hold key positions in Netanyahu's cabinet oppose a Palestinian state.

"If the Arab nations grasp the fact that they need to revise the Arab League proposal according to the changes Israel demands, then we can talk," Netanyahu said, according Haaretz, which cited two sources at the meeting.

"But if they bring the proposal from 2002 and define it as 'take it or leave it' — we'll choose to leave it."

Late last month, Netanyahu spoke of the Arab League-endorsed proposal that dates to 2002, saying it "includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians."

But some analysts questioned whether his comments were a bid to fend off international critics over his appointment of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and his strong opposition to a French peace initiative now taking shape.

The Arab proposal essentially calls for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories and resolve the issue of refugees with the Palestinians, leading to the creation of a Palestinian state, in exchange for normalized relations with Arab countries.

According to Yisrael Hayom, Netanyahu also told fellow Likud members that "the Arab initiative includes positive elements."

"But it is clear that it must be updated in order to take account of changes that have occurred in the region in recent years," he said.

Haaretz reported that Netanyahu said the plan's "negative elements" included what he described as the return of Palestinian "refugees" and the demand that Israel retreat to the 1948 borders.

AFP contributed to this report

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/213610

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