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Netanyahu: 'No One to Negotiate With'


JERUSALEM, Israel -- There is no one on the Palestinian side to negotiate with, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg in a candid interview published Thursday.

Netanyahu said there's an "emerging consensus" that Israel doesn't have a partner who can "challenge constituencies."

"[P.A. chairman Mahmoud] Abbas has not done anything to challenge the prevailing Palestinian consensus," he said.

Netanyahu pointed to some of the steps he's taken to move the process along, including his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University in which he said for the first time he would back a two-state solution. He also agreed to a 10-month construction moratorium and to releasing "killers of innocent people," which he called the "hardest decision."

Netanyahu said Abbas has done "nothing" to move the process along. Instead, he internationalized the conflict by going to U.N. organizations in violation of Oslo and all the interim agreements, and now he's embracing Hamas.

He said Israel does not want a binational state or a Palestinian-Iranian state next door. The P.A., he said, "wants a map without the end of the conflict."

"They expect us to just leave, shut our eyes, tear out the settlements," he continued, but "...been there, done that."

"We did it in Gaza. And what we got was not peace but rocket fire," Netanyahu said.

While Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are important, they're not "the core of the problem."

"This conflict has been going on for almost a century," he said. "During the first half of that century, there wasn't a single settlement. From 1920, when this conflict effectively began, until 1967, there wasn't a single Israeli settlement or a single Israeli soldier in the territories and yet this conflict raged."

That conflict, he said, "was about the president refusal to recognize a Jewish state, before it was established and after it was established."

"My insistence on recognition of the Jewish state is not a tactical PR stunt. It goes to the core of the conflict," he said.

Netanyahu said Kerry tried very hard, made "a big effort."

"We made a huge effort together…It was a tough go," he said.

Nonetheless, he said Israel would not allow the unresolved conflict with the Palestinians to "hold us hostage."

"We don't mortgage our future to the maturation of Palestinian poltics," he concluded.



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