(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) At a meeting of Likud party ministers on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced questions regarding the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, two weeks after saying the initiative included some “positive elements” and that Israel is “willing to negotiate with Arab states’ revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002.”
On Monday, one Likud minister asked Netanyahu what he would do if Arab states were not willing to revise the initiative. “If the Arab states grasp the fact that they need to revise the Arab League proposal according to the changes Israel demands, then we can talk,” Netanyahu replied. “But if they bring the proposal from 2002 and define it as ‘take it or leave it,’ we’ll choose to leave it.”
In response to another question about the Arab Peace Initiative, Netanyahu said the initiative provided a “good foundation, but it clearly must be updated due to the far-reaching changes that have taken place in our region in recent years.”
The prime minister went on to say the initiative could be relevant with the removal of its demands for an Israeli return to the 1967 borders (including in the Golan Heights region) and the granting of a right of return to Palestinian refugees. Netanyahu also advocated the idea of taking part in a regional conference that would lead to the normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world as well as a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.