Israel PM agrees to return to 1967 borders

Published today (updated) 23/06/2011 20:44

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to peace talks based on 1967 borders on the condition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and solve the Palestinian refugee issue outside of Israel’s borders, Israeli daily Maariv reported today.

Netanyahu announced the position to US presidential Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, and acting envoy for the Middle East David Hale, both of whom Netanyahu met with last week, the Israeli paper said.

Netanyahu also reportedly issued his stance to EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and special envoy for the Middle East Quartet Tony Blair, in meetings held this week, the Israeli daily stated.

Netanyahu reportedly said during a cabinet meeting Sunday, that “the discussion on the number of the Israelis and the Palestinians in the area that is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is irrelevant and not real, what I care about is to have a Jewish majority within Israel’s borders that will be set.”

However, a statement released by Netanyahu’s office deny these claims, saying that “the report is untrue and Netanyahu’s stance concerning 1967 borders is clear, Israel will not return to these borders.”

The Palestinian leadership plans to ask the United Nations in September to recognize a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, a move opposed by the US and Israel.

The EU has stressed that it would prefer both sides to return to the negotiating table, with member states divided on how they plan to vote on the resolution.

In May, Netanyahu rejected US President Barack Obama’s proposal to base peace negotiations on the 1967 borders, claiming them to be “indefensible.”

Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967.

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