I'll meet any Arab leader, anywhere

June 14, 2009
Peace now: Netanyahu

Peace now: Netanyahu

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called on Palestinian leaders to restart Middle East peace negotiations immediately and said he is prepared to go anywhere to meet Arab leaders.

In a highly anticipated foreign policy address at Bar Ilan University, he said: "I call on you, our Palestinian neighbours, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority: Let us begin peace negotiations immediately, without preconditions.

"Israel is committed to international agreements and expects all the other parties to fulfill their obligations as well," he said.

Netanyahu said he was prepared to meet with the leaders of neighboring Arab countries at any time, to promote peace, adding: "I turn to Arab leaders: Let's make peace, I am ready. I am willing to go to Damascus; Riyadh, to meet any time and anywhere."

He said Israel has no desire to control the Palestinian people, and declared that both nations should be able to live side by side in peace. He said he accepted a Palestinian state - so long as it was demilitarised and properly monitored.

"We want both Israeli and Palestinian children to live without war," Netanyahu said. "We must ask ourselves - why has peace not yet arrived after 60 years?"

But he said, Israel would not accept a situation which left it existing beside a terrorist state. Every withdrawal from settlement territories would contribute to such terror, adding that Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state, and cited the root of the regional conflict to "even moderate" Palestinian elements' refusal to do so.

Jewish people have been linked to the land of Israel for over 3,000 years, he said.

More soon

Last updated: 6:55pm, June 14 2009