Netanyahu: Peace Rests on Recognition of Israel

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Palestinian Authority's refusal to recognize Israel as the historic homeland to the Jewish people is the real stumbling block in negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday evening at Bar-Ilan University.

"That is the most important key to solving the problem," Netanyahu told participants at the 20th Anniversary conference of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA).

In his remarks, Netanyahu elaborated on key issues that have shaped the historical conflict between the two peoples, clarifying long-standing myths that have morphed into "facts" since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Paramount among those issues is the insistence that the root of the conflict is Israel's so-called "occupation" of areas that came under Jewish sovereignty following the 1967 Six-Day War. Netanyahu said it's time to put that fantasy to rest.

A second issue is blaming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the violent uprisings in Arab countries over the past two years. Netanyahu said it's obvious that's simply not true.

He again rebuffed Iran's oft-repeated claim that its nuclear aspirations are strictly for energy and medical research, when its obsession with uranium enrichment and plutonium reactors prove its goal is nuclear weapons capabilities.

"Iran does not need enrichment and plutonium reactors for peaceful purposes," Netanyahu said. "Seventeen countries in the world produce nuclear energy for peaceful needs without one centrifuge or enriching uranium."

Netanyahu cautioned against lifting economic sanctions against Iran until it agrees to halt uranium enrichment and dismantle the centrifuges.

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