Israel is prepared to make “painful compromises” for peace with the Palestinians, including the handover of land they seek for a state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a supportive Congress yesterday.
Palestinians swiftly dismissed the Israeli leader’s terms for a deal as placing more “obstacles” in diplomacy’s way, casting doubt as to whether frozen peace talks may actually resume.
Addressing a joint meeting of Congress after a testy exchange last week with President Barack Obama, Netanyahu reiterated his expectations ahead of further talks about the contours of a future Palestine.
They included Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and the scrapping of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s unity accord with the Islamist movement Hamas.
“Tear up your pact with Hamas. Sit down and negotiate. Make peace with the Jewish state,” he said.
Netanyahu explicitly suggested for the first time that Israel would cede some Jewish settlements in the West Bank, though others would be annexed under any future agreement.
In Israel, settler leaders and members from Netanyahu’s own Likud party also voiced their objections. But with no diplomatic breakthrough in sight, his ruling coalition did not seem to be in any jeopardy.