AJC Salutes Netanyahu's Offer to Resume Peace Talks with Abbas

Sep 23, 2011, 18:26 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC saluted Prime Minister Netanyahu's eloquent and forthcoming speech before the UN General Assembly today to achieve a breakthrough for peace with the Palestinians.

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Israel will be the "first country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations," after the Palestinians sign a peace agreement with Israel, declared Netanyahu.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu used the UN podium to compellingly explain Israel's aspirations to achieve peace with all her neighbors, and to invite yet again Palestinian Authority President Abbas to direct talks to resolve all outstanding issues to reach a comprehensive peace," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "The Israeli leader's outstretched hand for peace was once again rejected by Abbas, who, strikingly, earlier used the same UN podium to make his case for creating a Palestinian state without talking to Israel."

Netanyahu told the world leaders gathered at the UN that he came to speak the truth. "The truth is that Israel wants peace," said Netanyahu, who called on Abbas to meet with him today at the UN in New York to resume direct peace talks.

In the interest of peace, Netanyahu urged UN member states to reject the Palestinian campaign to achieve UN recognition of a state without an agreement with Israel. "The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let that happen," said Netanyahu.

Explaining to the assembled leaders Israel's vulnerability, Netanyahu stressed that negotiations are essential to ensure that security arrangements can be agreed upon to provide for a sustainable peace.

"How do you protect such a tiny country, surrounded by people sworn to Israel's destruction and armed to the teeth by Iran?" said Netanyahu, referring to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Both have continued to wage terror against Israel, although Israel withdrew completely from Gaza and southern Lebanon.

Netanyahu reminded the UN member states that Hamas has been violating international law by holding incommunicado Gilad Shalit, a kidnapped Israeli solider, for more than five years. He has been denied any visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross. "Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release," said Netanyahu.

"Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we're not prepared to have another Gaza there," said Netanyahu. "That's why we need to have real security arrangements, which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate with us."

Netanyahu reviewed recent regional developments, including the threat of a nuclear Iran, the rise of militant Islam, and the uncertain evolution of the Arab Spring, all factors that weigh heavily on Israel's security concerns, as well as its quest for peace.

"UN member states heard directly the enormous challenges Israel confronts, but also got an unambiguous message of hope from Prime Minister Netanyahu," said Harris. "For the sake of peace, isn't it long overdue for President Abbas to heed the advice of President Obama, grasp Prime Minister Netanyahu's extended hand, and together realize the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace?"

SOURCE American Jewish Committee