Netanyahu: Palestinian acceptance of Israel 'minimal requirement'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the Palestinians' acceptance of the existence of a Jewish state is the "minimal requirement for peace."

“I’ve made hard decisions to further peace negotiations. I’m willing to make even harder decisions to achieve peace. I hope [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas is also willing to do so,” Netanyahu said via satellite to the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington. 

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The core of their conflict, Netanyahu said, is not about borders or settlements. Palestinians must “come to grips with” Israel existing next to their future state.

“It’s not too much to ask. It’s the minimal requirement for peace, but it’s not the only requirement,” Netanyahu added. 

An agreement with the Palestinians must contain “iron-clad security arrangements” that allow Israel to defend itself against any possible threats.

Netanyahu praised President Obama and applauded Secretary of State John Kerry for his “tireless efforts for peace.” “This man doesn’t sleep,” he added.

In July, Kerry reinvigorated direct talks between the two sides and has been aiming to help strike a final status agreement by May, 2014.

Little progress has come out of the latest talks, both sides have said, because of issues concerning Israel’s expansion of settlements in the West Bank, and Palestinians’ violence against Israelis.

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, spoke to the Saban Forum on Friday. He predicted a deal would not be achieved in the next year.

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