Netanyahu Pushes 'Peace Process' Renewal

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the renewal of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority a "vital strategic interest for the State of Israel."

Netanyahu issued a statement Saturday evening in which he thanked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for "great efforts" to restart talks with Palestinian Authority leaders. Kerry has made six trips to the Middle East since the beginning of the year, trying to broker a resumption of talks.

The Israeli prime minister has previously urged the Palestinians to begin talks without preconditions.  But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas insists that Israel's return to 1967 borders be a precondition for talks, something that Israel has called a "non-starter."

The Palestinians have also said they won't talk without another building freeze in Jewish communites in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

Palestinian officials say the talks won't begin unless they get a guarantee that Israel will discuss the general borders of a future Palestinian state.

Netanyahu faces substantial opposition to the talks within his governing coalition.  Economic Minister Naftali Bennett has threatened to pull his Jewish Home Party out of the government if the prime minister agrees to Abbas's border demands.

In his Saturday statement, Netanyahu described his goals as "preventing the creation of a bi-national state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River that would endanger the future of the Jewish state and preventing the establishment of an additional Iranian-sponsored terrorist state on Israel's borders, which would endanger us no less." 

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