Netanyahu: Peace talks ‘but not at any price’

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is ready to continue peace talks with the Palestinians “but not at any price,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“To my regret as we reached the moment before agreeing on the continuation of the talks, the Palestinian leadership hastened to unilaterally request to accede to 14 international treaties. Thus the Palestinians substantially violated the understandings that were reached with American involvement,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting.

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His remarks came as U.S. envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Martin Indyk, was set to meet with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating in an attempt to keep the peace talks going, at least until their April 29 scheduled end, and possibly beyond.

The Palestinians “will achieve a state only by direct negotiations, not by empty statements and not by unilateral moves,” Netanyahu said, adding: “unilateral steps on their part will be met with unilateral steps on our part.”

Israel’s chief negotiator to the peace talks, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, on Saturday in an interview on Israel’s Channel 2 accused Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party of trying to “torpedo” the peace process.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home Party last week as negotiations hit a major impasse announced the reissuing of tenders for the construction of more than 700 residential units in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.

Livni also blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the failure of the talks.

Bennett responded to Livni’s allegations on Sunday morning in a Facebook post: ”Last night I heard that someone is blaming Bayit Yehudi (!) for the collapse of the negotiations with the Palestinians. She should remember what Rabbi Akiva said in Pirkei Avot:  Silence is a sign of intelligence. Or as I would translate it into English: Silence is golden.”

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