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Middle East

Netanyahu, Lieberman promise to push for peace with conditions

Latest update : 2009-05-05

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined on Monday a new "triple track" approach to peace with the Palestinians. Meanwhile Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman continues his European tour with a stop in Paris on Tuesday.

AFP - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Monday for a "fresh" triple-track approach to peace with the Palestinians that includes an immediate resumption of talks without conditions.

But Netanyahu, speaking to a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington via a satellite hook-up from Jerusalem, did not mention the goal of a two-state solution embraced by the new US administration of President Barack Obama.

"I believe it's possible to achieve (peace), but I think it requires a fresh approach," he told the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

"The fresh approach that I suggest is pursuing a triple track toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians: a political track, a security track and economic track," Netanyahu said.

"The political track is that we're prepared to resume peace negotiations without any delay and without any preconditions, the sooner the better," he told the 6,500 AIPAC delegates, foreign ambassadors and US politicians.

The security track involves continuing talks involving US General Keith Dayton in cooperation with the Jordanians and the US-backed Palestinian Authority of president Mahmud Abbas, in order to bolster Palestinian security forces.

"The economic track means we are prepared to work together to remove as many obstacles as we can to the advancement of the ... Palestinian economy," he said.

"We want to work with the Palestinian Authority on this track not as a substitute for negotiations but as a booster," said Netanyahu, who speaks in fluent American-accented English.

"I want to see Palestinian youngsters know that they have a future," he added. "I want them to have jobs," he added, stirring applause.

With such a "realistic" approach and the help of Obama and Abbas, "we can defy the skeptics, we can surprise the world," he said.

However, Netanyahu, who said he is due to visit the White House in two weeks, warned that peace will not come without security.

"We shall never compromise on Israel's security. Secondly, for a final peace settlement to be achieved, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish state," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu has so far refused to publicly endorse the creation of a Palestinian state, and has insisted on focusing efforts on strengthening the West Bank economy before engaging in negotiations on a final status agreement.

The US special envoy to the region, George Mitchell, has nevertheless stressed several times that Washington's efforts were focused on a two-state solution and continuing the peace talks.

Israel's firebrand Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also sparked concern by declaring last month that the Jewish state was not bound by the US-backed 2007 agreement that relaunched peace talks.

He also said that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process needed a new approach as previous talks have all "reached a dead end."

Date created : 2009-05-05