Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he is prepared to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians immediately, but any agreement is contingent on their acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. His remarks came after a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House. According to the AP, the US leader told the Israeli premier it was time to get back to the negotiating table.
Netanyahu and President Barack Obama met for more than two hours and focused on Mideast peace talks, Iran's nuclear works and the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
Obama said he expects a positive response from his diplomatic moves towards Tehran on stopping its nuclear development plans by the end of this year. He said the United States wanted to bring Iran into the world community, but declared "we're not going to have talks forever."
At the same time, Obama noted that it was important that Netanyahu will resume the Mideast peace talks. "We have seen progress stalled on this front, and I suggested to the prime minister that he has a historic opportunity to get a serious movement on this issue during his tenure," Obama stated. "That means that all the parties involved have to take seriously obligations that they have previously agreed to."
Obama went on to say: "I think that there is no reason why we should not seize this opportunity and this moment."
On Iran, Obama voiced his readiness to seek deeper international sanctions against Tehran if it ignored American efforts to open negotiations on its nuclear program. "The important thing is to make sure there is a clear timetable, at which point we say these talks don't seem to be making any clear progress," Obama said. "If that hasn't taken place I think the international community will see that it's ... Iran itself that is isolating themselves."
Netanyahu said he was ready to resume peace talks with the Palestinians immediately but said any agreement depended on their acceptance of Israel's right to exist. "There's never been a time when Arabs and Israelis see a common threat the way we see it today," Netanyahu said, speaking about Iran's nuclear program.