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18 May, 2009 20:41

Israel ready for peace talks – Netanyahu tells Obama

Israel is ready to start immediate peace negotiations with the Palestinians, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

However, speaking after talks with the US leader, Netanyahu said any agreement could be reached only after the Palestinians accepted Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

Executive Director of the Foundation for Arab-American Leadership, Hussein Ibish, said a two-state solution could be a step closer.

“Israeli government will, too, come to see that this is essential and not only in the international or American interest but also in Israeli’s interest as well. But it will take some time for the senior Israeli leaders to distance themselves from some of their campaign pledges. A firm commitment reiterated by the US at this stage will be a very important element in creating a constructive policy from the new Israeli government. Now they do not have a policy but a bunch of statements and it is likely that their policy will be compatible with the long-stated American goal of creating a Palestinian state.”

Ibish also said that “efforts by Netanyahu to take Palestinian independence and occupation off the table until there’s a resolution to issues regarding Iran is not going to be accepted by the US administration, and the US is going to make that very clear and that is what the Israelis are going to be hearing.”