Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed flailing attempts to rekindle peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA) Wednesday, during a meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.
“You’re coming at an important time,” he told Kurz. “We’re trying to re-launch the negotiations with the Palestinians.”
“Every time we get to that point, [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas stacks on an additional condition which he knows that Israel cannot give,” he explained. “So instead of moving toward peace with Israel, he’s moving toward peace with Hamas.”
“He has to choose,” Netanyahu mused. “Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace, [but] so far he hasn’t done so.”
After torpedoing peace talks by applying to 15 international conventions, threatening to disband the PA, and approaching Hamas for a unity pact, Abbas reiterated more demands to Israel on Tuesday – this time insisting on a three-month construction freeze in Judea and Samaria prior to renewing peace talks.
The move sparked outrage among several ministers, including Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis, who declared “Abbas is (former PA Chairman Yasser) Arafat in disguise.”
“The Palestinian leadership under Abbas just changed its tone and not its essence,” he argued. “Under the honey-coated words and diplomacy is hiding an extremist leadership which is not interested in peace or an agreement, but rather in endless extortion of terrorist releases, concessions and withdrawals by Israel – just as a condition to have peace talks.”