By TOVAH LAZAROFF, DANIEL CLINTON \11/13/2016
The Palestinian Authority rejected the idea of a Jewish state within any borders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, as he blamed Ramallah for the absence of a peace process.
“I want peace. My hand is extended for peace,” Netanyahu said at a memorial at Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem to mark the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, who led the Oslo process.
Netanyahu spoke of the Israeli willingness for peace in the shadow of a sudden flurry of initiatives to pave the way for the renewal of direct negotiations, which have been dormant since April 2014.(Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlines ‘5 Steps for Peace’. )
France wants to hold an international peace conference at the end of December and Russia wants Moscow to be a venue for a Netanyahu-Abbas parley.
The Obama Administration has not ruled out an initiative with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20. Trump himself has also stated that he wants to broker a peace-deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Rabin wanted peace and extended his hand in peace, but even he recognized the “unwillingness of a significant portion of the Palestinians” to make peace with Israel.
Since then, moderate Palestinians were being overshadowed by extremists carrying out terror attacks, Netanyahu said.
“This extremism is based on one thing, not our lack of will to extend our hand, to talk [and] to achieve peace. It is not based on our problem, but their refusal to recognize a Jewish state within any borders,” Netanyahu said.
Since Rabin’s day, these extremists have prevented spreading the circle of peace beyond Egypt and Jordan, the premier added.
Netanyahu said that he was encouraged by the trend of moderate Arab states improving ties with Israel as their interests dovetail, and reiterated his belief that perhaps this could one day lead to a renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians and eventually a peace agreement.
He also spoke of the threat of Islamic extremism and Iran as a state which sponsors global terrorism. Rabin understood this threat, which has only grown worse since then, Netanyahu said.
“Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons to destroy us,” Netanyahu said as he spoke of Tehran’s continued development of ballistic missiles.
“We must prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” he added.