Netanyahu: Israel not close to final peace deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his conservative Likud Party colleagues in the Knesset Monday that Jerusalem is not near a security agreement with the Palestinians.

He was quoted as having said, "We are not close to a final status agreement with the Palestinians," according to a tweet from Haaretz diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid.

That statement differs from the one Secretary of State John Kerry made on Friday before he departed Israel for the United States.

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"I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and the prosperity and the security that all of the people of this region deserve," Kerry told reporters.

At the meeting Monday, Netanyahu told his colleagues Kerry would return to the region this week to resume negotiations. The State Department has not yet confirmed the trip. 

Kerry has been aiming to help strike a final status agreement between the two sides by next May. 

“Our demands are rarely heard," Netanyahu said at the Likud meeting, Haaretz reports. "But only if they are fulfilled, will we be able to advance toward an agreement. The state is under attack and we must protect it."

On Sunday, Netanyahu told the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum via satellite that the “minimal requirement” for a peace deal is for Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.