The Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) sent around via email to journalists this transcript of selected remarks made in an interview yesterday of Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, as interviewed by Israel’s Channel 10 TV:
Prime Minister Netanyahu: “I have set very clear policy; I did this in my 14.6.09 Bar-Ilan University speech. [The full transcript in English-language translation is posted here] There I said as follows: If the Palestinians recognize a Jewish State, if they shelve the idea of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return, if they have a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state – I tell you here and now that I will go with this to the end and that no coalition consideration will stop me, and I have no doubt that a majority will support me.”
Question: “Then perhaps [Foreign] Minister [Avigdor] Liberman is correct when he says, ‘Let us go for a long-range interim agreement and not a permanent agreement immediately, within a year, like you want?”
Prime Minister Netanyahu: “If we get into this discussion, we will likely hit a wall; a wall named Jerusalem, perhaps a wall named refugees. It could be that the result would be an interim agreement. It’s possible. I do not rule this out, including in the talks that we have held. I said that it’s possible. If we say this in advance, it is not certain they will come so easily. But it could be the result of a diplomatic process; I am not certain that it should be its primary goal.”
Question: “Are you indicating a possible change in policy, which says that there will be additional phases, the transfer of additional areas to the Palestinians, as you have already done in the past?”
Prime Minister Netanyahu: “I am not going into details on this.”
Ma’an News Agency reported later that “A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas shot down the suggestion. ‘For the Palestinians, any suggestion of reaching an interim agreement is unacceptable because it omits Jerusalem and the issue of refugees’, he said. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat also dismissed Netanyahu’s suggestion, saying: ‘interim solutions are rejected part and parcel … It’s now time for final solutions that include Jerusalem, refugees, borders, security, settlements, water and the release of all Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails’, he said … Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the first for nearly two years, began in Washington on September 2. But they stalled when a partial 10-month freeze on Israeli settlement building expired on September 26. The Palestinians refused to resume negotiations without a new moratorium and Washington admitted on December 7 that it had failed to convince Israel to renew the building curbs. Palestinian negotiators have emphasized a set of alternatives to new talks, including seeking recognition of a Palestinian state along the borders that existed in 1967, before the Six Day War”. This was reported here.