Netanyahu Says Palestinians Are Balking at Peace Negotiations

Article excerpt

Palestinian leaders are holding up renewal of peace negotiations under the Oslo accord, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, in order to keep Israel under pressure. Now, "coddled by the international community," they are planning violence.

Netanyahu made those points among others in an interview Sunday. He was in an expansive mood as he laid out his ideas for a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In recent weeks negotiations have seemingly broken down over the terms of an Israeli troop withdrawal from the West Bank city of Hebron, which was supposed to have happened months ago. But Netanyahu said the differences over Hebron were "marginal." "What is preventing agreement on Hebron," he said, "is Palestinian fear that agreement would reduce pressure on Israel" to move toward Palestinian views on the larger issue of a final settlement. Before he won the election last May, Netanyahu said, the Palestinians "thought they had an Israeli government that would give them a state on the 1967 boundaries and would redivide Jerusalem." Now, he said, they want to force a government of different views in the same direction. "They want a guaranteed result before the negotiations," he said. "They are basically saying, `Give me a down payment in advance, a promise, that at the end of the negotiations I will have what I want. Then I will negotiate with you.' "Our intelligence people are telling us that for the last three weeks they have been putting in place the mechanism for renewed bouts of viol ence. And why shouldn't they? They think they gained from violence the last time. They were coddled by the international community when they fired weapons at us on the trumped-up charge of this tunnel (in the Old City of Jerusalem) that supposedly was undermining the mosque. "So they'll have Israel condemned and try to unify the Arab world. What you have is the idea that violence pays and you negotiate under the continuing threat of violence. And to the extent that the international community has given them automatic support, they are less interested in forging agreements and compromises along the way. …


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