France says Palestinians must OK Israel as Jewish: Netanyahu
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that France wants the new Palestinian government to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
"What I heard from President Sarkozy is that they must recognise Israel as the state of the Jewish people," Netanyahu told reporters outside the Elysee Palace in Paris after his closed-door meeting.
"I heard similar things yesterday in Britain and think that in Paris and in London there's an understanding that whoever wants to make peace must commit to peace and not to the complete opposite," he said.
"I think that's an important development. Anybody who wants to destroy Israel is not a partner for peace."
Mahmud Abbas of the Palestinian Fatah faction struck an accord with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Wednesday, ending a four-year feud and laying the foundations of a new unified Palestinian government.
Israel is concerned that the new Palestinian authority includes militants it considers terrorists and those who are dedicated to denying Israel's right to exist as an independent Jewish state.
At the same time, some European leaders like Sarkozy have been warning that they might recognise Palestinian statehood without waiting for a comprehensive peace deal, and would seek a UN resolution to confirm it.
On his visit to London and to Paris, Netanyahu has been warning that such a strategy, far from breathing new life into the peace process, could kill it.
"A serious quest for peace can only happen through negotiations. It can only happen in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and not through a UN diktat," he said in Paris.
The Paris meeting came as Abbas was in Berlin meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has said that Germany willnot recognise an independent Palestine until Israel has reached a settlement with it.
© 2011 AFP