Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bowed to U.S. pressure Sunday and accepted the goal of a Palestinian state. But it was unclear whether the breakthrough, welcomed by President Obama, would lead to a revival of peace talks with the Palestinians, who immediately rejected the sharp limits Netanyahu would place on their nation's sovereignty.
Netanyahu said Israel needed international guarantees that a Palestinian state would not have its own military.In his first policy speech on the conflict since taking office 10 weeks ago, he also insisted that the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority give up claims to Jerusalem as a future capital, recognize Israel as a Jewish state and "impose law and order" on the Hamas militants who run the Gaza Strip.
Speaking two days after Iran's government proclaimed the reelection of its hard-line leader, Netanyahu said the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran was "the greatest danger confronting Israel" and the region. And he said the "fundamental condition" for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not stopping Jewish settlements but securing "a public, binding and honest Palestinian recognition of the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people."
"The president is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in a statement. "He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel's security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu's endorsement of that goal.
"The president will continue working with all parties . . . to see that they fulfill their obligations and responsibilities necessary to achieve a two-state solution."