BY ELAD BENARI & YONI KEMPINSKI, ARUTZ 7—
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s international spokesperson, Mark Regev, gave a briefing to reporters in Jerusalem on Tuesday ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to New York for the UN General Assembly.
Regev pointed out that by going to the United Nations to ask for recognition of a state, the Palestinian Authority is violating agreements it has previously signed with Israel.
“They made a commitment to solve all issues of contentions through negotiations,” Regev said. “By refusing to negotiate and now by trying to impose a solution they are in clear violation of both the spirit and the letter of signed agreements.”
“Israel reserves the right to respond,” he added. “We are following events very closely. We have different options. We will decide in our own decision-making process if, when, and how to respond. It’s clear that we reserve the right to respond. If one party breaks a signed agreement, the other party is totally within its rights to say business as usual cannot continue.”
Regev said Israel hopes the PA “picks up the ball” and returns to direct negotiations with Israel.
“The fundamental problem with the Palestinian bid at the UN,” said Regev, “is that it appears to be part of a Palestinian strategy to avoid negotiations with Israel. It’s almost three years now that the Palestinians have refused to engage.”
“I would ask the Palestinians: If you boycott Israel, if you refuse to negotiate with Israel, how do you expect to make peace?” he said. “[PA Chairman] Abbas wrote a piece for The New York Times a few months ago, and he seemed to be saying: ‘We want a Palestinian state as a superior platform on which to conduct our struggle with Israel.’ This is the very opposite of the Israeli outlook.”
Regev added that the UN General Assembly consists of more than 100 countries that will support anything the PA brings forward, no matter what.
“There are many who give the Palestinians a ‘blank cheque’,” Regev said. “This is one of our criticisms on the way the UN has handled the Middle East.”
“If there was to be some sort of maximalist Palestinian position passed by the UN, you would make a negotiated solution so much more difficult in the future,” added Regev, saying passing the PA’s statehood bid would be “tying the hands of a future Palestinian leadership to negotiate peace with Israel on the issue of borders.”
Regev reiterated that Netanyahu is willing to meet Abbas for talks anywhere, even in New York City.
“My Prime Minister has said he’s willing to meet Abbas here in Jerusalem,” Regev said. “He’s willing to go to Ramallah to meet Abbas there. He said last night he’s willing to meet Abbas in New York. We want to see the restart of the peace talks between us and the Palestinians.”
Netanyahu’s proposal, said Regev, is ongoing peace talks at the highest levels, until all the issues are resolved and results are reached.
“The idea is to find a historic peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said. “That is the only way to change realities.”