Israeli PM: No to a Second 'Hamastan'

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Barack Obama's special Mideast envoy George Mitchell that Israel would not accept another 'Hamastan' at its back door.

"Israel must make sure that the political process does not result in the creation of a second 'Hamastan' [in Judea and Samaria] that would threaten Jerusalem and the coastline," a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) quoted Netanyahu, following the Thursday evening meeting.

Netanyahu also told Mitchell that Israel "expects the Palestinians to recognize Jerusalem as the [state] capital of the Jewish people," he said.

The prime minister said that Israel has no desire to rule over the Palestinians, but neither would it abandon the nation's security interests.

Netanyahu also said the Palestinian Authority (PA ) must recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state before further discussion on the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"Israel expects the Palestinians to first recognize Israel as a Jewish state before talking about two states for two peoples," Netanyahu said.

The Fatah-led PA government has thus far refused to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state in contrast to Hamas-affiliated Palestinians, who refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist at all.

Despite Netanyahu's stance, the meeting's atmosphere was described as positive, the PMO reported.

Meanwhile, PA officials are asking the Obama administration to pressure Israel into continuing negotiations from where former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni left off, i.e., resolving "final status" issues.

Among the final status issues are delineating the future borders of a Palestinian state, dividing Jerusalem as the capital of two states, and accepting the so-called right of return for millions of Arabs and their descendants, who left at the behest of their leadership, in the 1948 War of Independence.

Mitchell will meet with PA officials in Ramallah on Friday before departing for Cairo.

Source: YNet news

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