Netanyahu has reportedly told the EU's foreign policy chief that he is ready to discuss border issues with the Palestinians on the West Bank. The Palestinians, however, took the PM's comments as pure "deception."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to restart peace talks with Palestinian leaders, the Tel Aviv-based daily "Haaretz" reported on Tuesday, quoting a senior government official. Netanyahu wants to sit down with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate the borders of Jewish settlements in the West Bank more than 12 months after the last round of talks broke down.
According to "Haaretz," Netanyahu proposed the idea to EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini when she visited the region last week.
Israel took over the West Bank in the Six-Day War in 1967 and seeks to keep the settlements it has built there under any future peace deal. The Palestinians, who see the West Bank as part of a future state, have agreed to a small territorial swap, but would require Israel to provide compensation for the land lost to Jewish settlements.
Netanyahu's remarks were the first time an Israeli prime minister has displayed readiness to discuss border issues first rather than possible security arrangements for a future Palestinian state.
Palestinians: Netanyahu remarks 'lies'
The Palestinian government was not impressed, however, with foreign minister Riad al-Malki calling Netanyahu's comments to Mogherini "lies and deception."
The Israeli official cited by "Haaretz" attached great importance to Mogherini's trip, the paper said. Hers was the first high-level visit to Israel since Netanyahu won re-election in March, and came amidst mistrust between Israel and the EU over whether his new government was willing to negotiate the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
The most recent attempt at peace talks broke down in April 2014 after Israel refused to comply with a Palestinian request to cease settlement building in order for the discussions to take place.
es/ng (AP, dpa)