JERUSALEM (AP) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel will not cede any territory due to the current climate in the Middle East, appearing to rule out the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu’s comments, which came as he sought to appeal to hard-liners ahead of national elections next week, rejected a key goal of the international community and bode poorly for reviving peace efforts if he is re-elected.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremism and terror organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will be no concessions and no withdrawals. It is simply irrelevant,” read a statement released by his Likud party.
Netanyahu’s office said the statement reflected the prime minister’s long-held position.
The international community has long pushed for the creation of a Palestinian state on lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. In 1993, Israel and the Palestinians signed an interim agreement that was to lead to the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Numerous rounds of peace negotiations have been held since then, with the most recent talks breaking down last year.
Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu was using regional strife as an excuse.
“Today Netanyahu revealed his true face,” Erekat said. “Since 1993, he worked hard for the destruction of the option of peace and the option of a two-state solution.”
Ahead of national elections, centrist and leftist political parties in Israel have said they support the resumption of peace efforts with the Palestinians.
There was no immediate U.S. reaction.
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