Israel warns Palestinians against ‘unilateral steps’

Jerusalem, Nov 16 (DPA) Israel would answer to any Palestinian step toward an unilateral declaration of independence with “one-sided Israeli measures,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted by Israeli media as saying in a forum Sunday in Jerusalem.

“There is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and any unilateral path will only unravel the framework of agreements between us and will only bring unilateral steps from Israel’s side,” Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz quoted

Netanyahu as saying.

Palestinians are considering appealing to the United Nations Security Council to endorse a unilateral declaration of independence in the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Israel Army Radio Sunday.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad spoke Sunday about a second independence plan designed by the Ramallah government. The plan consists in getting preparing for statehood by concentrating efforts in the development area for a period of two years.

Erekat said Sunday that Palestinians are losing their hope in the peace talks to achieve their aspirations after 18 years renewing and suspending negotiations.

“We are fed up. … We do not believe that you really want a two-state solution,” he told the radio.

“Israel continues with the occupation and is not interested in returning to the negotiating table. It continues upholding the settlements and building in the (occupied) territories.”

Netanyahu reacted Sunday evening and said Israel is ready to take concrete steps toward the resumption of peace negotiations with Palestinians and insisted on talking about the most sensitive issues on the table.

Netanyahu called Palestinians to start negotiations, while emphasizing the three main issues that should be on the table: to accept Israel’s right to self-defence, to find a way to prevent rocket fire from Gaza and to stop Iran from obtaining nuclea

weapons.

While Netanyahu calls for negotiations to be renewed, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is asking Israel to first commit to a complete halt in settlement construction.

Netanyahu has said that while Israel will construct no new settlements, it reserves the right to build in existing ones to accommodate population expansion, so-called “natural growth.”

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were suspended one year ago as Israel began an election campaign. They have not been renewed since Netanyahu took office at the end of March.