Netanyahu says ready to discuss peace with Palestinians

– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held out the prospect on Monday, May 30 of reviving a 2002 Arab peace initiative that offers Israel diplomatic recognition from Arab countries in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians, Reuters says.

Netanyahu’s comments were a formal response to a speech last week by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who promised Israel warmer ties if it accepted efforts to resume peace talks.

“The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said, echoing comments he made a year ago to Israeli reporters.

“We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002 but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples,” he added, according to Reuters.

His comments were made also in English in a speech that was mostly in Hebrew – a device Netanyahu often uses when he wants to make a statement to the international community.

The original Arab plan offered full recognition of Israel but only if it gave up all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and agreed to a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees.

But in 2013, after the initiative’s terms were softened to include possible land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians, Netanyahu signaled a readiness to consider it.