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Netanyahu: Palestinian talks conditions 'insurmountable'

June 10, 2013 8:34 A.M. (Updated: June 12, 2013 8:24 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Palestinian preconditions for peace talks make a return to negotiations impossible for Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

"To me the setting of preconditions is an insurmountable obstacle," Netanyahu told the foreign affairs and defense committee, a parliamentary statement said.

The PLO says it will only return to negotiations if Israel stops building on occupied Palestinian land and if Israel agrees to negotiate on the basis of the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel demands talks "without preconditions" and refuses publicly to freeze settlement building.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has postponed an expected trip to Israel and Palestine to attend White House talks on Syria, US officials told AFP on Monday.

The visit had not been formally announced but a tentative schedule from the office of Israeli President Shimon Peres had said the two men would meet on June 11.

Israel HaYom, a newspaper considered close to Netanyahu also said Kerry had been due to arrive on Tuesday.

It said he delayed to give President Mahmoud Abbas more time to decide whether to drop his insistence on a settlement freeze.

Last week, Kerry warned that if his efforts to kickstart the peace negotiations, frozen since 2010, fail now, there may never be another chance.

Israeli news website Ynet quoted Netanyahu as telling a meeting of senior members of his Likud party on Tuesday that he had received no US request for a settlement freeze.

It also reported him as saying that continued settlement building in the occupied West Bank "has no effect on a peace agreement."

But he told the parliamentary committee that the alternative to statehood for the Palestinians would be for them and Israelis to share one country, and that was not an option.

"If we go into direct negotiations, it is likely to be very hard but the alternative of a binational state is one we do not want," he said.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu -- who in 2009 declared his support for a two-state solution -- said he and Kerry will "try to make progress to find the opening for negotiations with the Palestinians, with the goal of reaching an agreement".

"This agreement will be based on a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, and on firm security arrangements based on the IDF (Israeli military)," he said.

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