Netanyahu urges Abbas to begin direct negotiations
NEW YORK, July 7 (Press Release)–In a special address to national Jewish leaders, as well as political, civic and business leaders, sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “meet me in the coming days” to begin peace talks in order to “fashion a final peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.”
“My idea of peace is that we live next to one another and we talk to each other to achieve peace. The sooner the better. Direct negotiations must start right away,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu. The meeting in New York followed the Prime Minister’s meetings with President Obama in Washington, DC.
Several dignitaries attended the meeting, including New York Governor David Paterson and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who provided greetings at the beginning of the event. Governor Paterson noted that New York shares a bond with Israel because of attacks waged against civilians within the boundaries of both states.
“In this dangerous time, we have no better partner as a state or a country than the state of Israel,” Governor Paterson said. In her remarks, Senator Gillibrand remembered her trip to Israel and specifically to Sderot last year.
“The U.S. must always support Israel’s right to protect her people,” she said, adding that she would use her voice in the U.S. Senate “to bring together bipartisan coalitions in Congress to show the world that our bond is truly unbreakable.” Among the elected officials attending the event were Congressional members Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), as well as NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
Prime Minister Netanyahu outlined security, legitimacy and prosperity as the three pillars of successful peace. “Security makes peace possible and makes a realistic peace take hold and endure,” he said. Regarding the challenges to Israel’s legitimacy, the Prime Minister commented that there are two lines of attack against Israel: the denial of the Jewish people’s connection to the land of Israel and the denial of Israel’s right to defend itself. “So much of the world supports Israel’s right to defend itself in theory, but consistently condemns it in practice … but the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu, adding that Israel was recognized and commended by British Colonel Richard Kemp for its efforts to prevent civilian casualties on all sides of battle.
Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that Israel faces three great challenges in the coming months: (1) staying focused on preventing a nuclear Iran, (2) redoubling its efforts to find the path to peace with the Palestinians and to those negotiations as soon as possible, and (3) uniting against any effort to challenge Israel’s rights to defend itself.
Preceding provided by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations