Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address more
than 60 ambassadors and over half the US Congress at the AIPAC
conference Monday night. As Netanyahu reiterated that he will be a
partner for peace for Palestinians, several Palestinian leaders ask what
this really means.
LIA TARACHANSKY, (VOICEOVER),TRNN: On Monday, May 4, US Vice President Joe Biden addressed the largest Israel lobby, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. He said:
JOE BIDEN, US VICE PRESIDENT: And the president is strongly and personally committed to achieving what all have basically said is needed, a two-state solution with a secure Jewish state of Israel living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable and independent Palestinian state. But Israel has to work toward a two-state solution. You’re not going to like my saying this, but not build more settlements, dismantle the existing outposts, and allow the Palestinians freedom of movement based on their first actions, access to economic opportunity, and increased security responsibility.
TARACHANSKY: Addressing AIPAC by satellite from Jerusalem, Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to resume peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The fresh approach that I suggest is pursuing a triple track towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians: a political track, a security track, an economic track. The political track means that we’re prepared to resume peace negotiations without any delay and without any preconditions, the sooner the better. The security track means that we want to continue the cooperation with the program led by General [Keith] Dayton, in cooperation with the Jordanians and with the Palestinian Authority, to strengthen the security apparatus of the Palestinians. This is something we believe in and something that I think we can advance in a joint effort. The economic track means that we are prepared to work together to remove as many obstacles as we can to the advancement of the Palestinian economy.
TARACHANSKY: The Associated Press recorded the response of several Palestinian political leaders to Netanyahu’s address. Chief negotiator Ahmed Qureia said:
AHMED QUREIA, FORMER PRIME MINISTER, PALESTINIAN NATIONAL AUTHORITY (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Cap putting an end to settlement activities and dismantling of settlements centers, as well as bringing an end to the policies promoting the Judaification of Jerusalem, are the main preconditions before starting any negotiation.
TARACHANSKY: In March, as Netanyahu struggled to assemble his coalition, he said:
NETANYAHU: Palestinians should understand that they have in our government a partner for peace, for security, and for rapid economic development of the Palestinian economy.
TARACHANSKY: But former Palestinian information minister and presidential candidate Mustafa Barghouti disagrees.
MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST: Netanyahu and his government are proving every day that there is no partner for peace when he says he will not allow discussion of the issue of Jerusalem, he will not stop settlements, he will not respect the Annapolis process. And when he says he does not accept a Palestinian state as a solution, then that means there is no partner for peace in Israel. All the nice words that he could say will not change the real fact and the fact that with this policy, Israel is destroying the potential for a Palestinian state and Israel is destroying the potential for peace based on two-state solution.
TARACHANSKY: Though saying he will enter peace negotiations without preconditions, Netanyahu said:
NETANYAHU: For a final peace settlement to be achieved, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish state.
TARACHANSKY: In 1988, Yasser Arafat, from his position as leader of the Palestinian liberation organization, already recognized Israel’s right to exist. Last month, the Palestinian authority’s top negotiator, Saeb Erekat, reiterated this by saying the PLO has already recognized the state of Israel. He added that Netanyahu refuses to even mention a Palestinian state. In his first speech as foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman said that concessions to Palestinians would only invite war, and declared that Israel was not bound by commitments it made in 2007 in Annapolis.
AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, ISRAELI MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): If someone thinks with concessions and every day says, “I’m willing to concede, I’m willing to concede,” thinking he will bring peace, he won’t. He will only bring on more conflicts and more wars [snip] and Annapolis was never ratified by the Israeli government. Neither the Israeli government nor the Israeli Knesset has ever voted on Annapolis.
TARACHANSKY: Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum added:
FAWZI BARHOUM, HAMAS SPOKESMAN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Netanyahu and his government are proving every day that there is no partner for peace when he says that he will not allow discussion, he will not stop settlements, he will not respect Annapolis process. And when he says he does not accept a Palestinian state as a solution, then that means there is no partner for peace in Israel. All the nice words that he could say will not change the real fact and the fact that with this policy, Israel is destroying the potential for a Palestinian state and Israel is destroying the potential for peace based on a two-state solution.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.