Israel to remain on eastern border of Palestinian state: PM

JERUSALEM - Israel will maintain a security presence along the eastern border of a future Palestinian state in order to prevent weapons smuggling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
"The ability to proliferate into contiguous areas thousands of rockets and missiles... is something that creates a monumental security problem," he said at a news conference with foreign reporters in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
"We must ensure that in that entry there is a way to stop the infiltration of weapons."
"In the case of the future settlement with the Palestinians, this will require an Israeli presence on the eastern side of the prospective Palestinian state," he said, refusing to elaborate on the nature of such a presence.
This was Netanyahu's first public comment since coming to power last year on the issue of borders of a future Palestinian state, and comes amid intensive US efforts to restart the peace negotiations which were suspended a year ago.
Netanyahu's comment is bound to anger the Palestinians who have repeatedly demanded an independent state along the borders of 1967 before Israel occupied the West Bank.
Israel has in recent years struggled to deal with the issue of thousands of rockets fired from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and from southern Lebanon.
And despite two massive military offensives, both Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia continue to hold thousands of projectiles, most of which have been smuggled into the territories in recent years.
"Based on recent experience, we can't afford to have that replicate a third time... we have to have something to interdict the flow of weapons," Netanyahu said.
And as US Middle East envoy George Mitchell again visited the region, Netanyahu urged the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, accusing them of setting preconditions.
"The Palestinians have climbed up a tree. People bring ladders, we bring them ladders, and the higher the ladder the higher they climb," he said.
The Palestinians have refused to renew negotiations short of a full Israeli halt of settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and despite an Israeli decision to implement a partial construction freeze in the West Bank.
"The Palestinians are piling demand upon demand. They should be told fair and square 'get into the tent and start negotiating for peace'," Netanyahu said.

Thursday, January 21st 2010

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