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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No conditions, no taboos - Let's just sit down and talk

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Let's make one thing clear right at the outset: Israel does not oppose Palestinian statehood. Israel wants peaceful coexistence, side by side with a future Palestinian state. But peace can only be reached through direct talks.

There is simply no other way. A peace agreement, clearly, involves two parties who, well, agree between themselves on the terms for peace.

This goes without saying, but it goes much better if you say it. Because some people seem to have forgotten the obvious.

Israel's previous government had agreed to open discussions with the Arab League on the so-called "Arab Peace Initiative", only to be snubbed. It had submitted a full-fledged comprehensive peace plan to the Palestinians, only to be ignored.

The current Israeli government has agreed to make an important gesture to the Palestinians in order to resume negotiations, by imposing a 10 months moratorium on construction in settlements. The Palestinians refused to respond in kind, and never stopped complaining, first , that the gesture wasn't sufficient, and then that it wasn't prolonged.

My message to my Palestinian neighbors is this: you can't evade the inevitable. You will not achieve peace and statehood without Israel.

You can't pretend we do not exist, or that you can do without us. We have to talk. Negotiations will not be easy. We're in for some arduous, laborious, tortuous work. But there simply is no other way if you truly aim for peace. No conditions, no taboos -- let's just sit down and talk.