Israel ready to negotiate with Palestinians: Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is willing to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East “peace plan”.

The remark was made on Sunday night in a pre-recorded address to a conference organized by “Christians United for Israel”, a US-based pro-Israeli evangelical group.

Speaking two days before his set date for annexing part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Netanyahu urged the Palestinians to “embrace” Trump’s plan.

“I encourage the Palestinians not to lose another opportunity,” he said.

“They should be prepared to negotiate a historic compromise that could bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

“Israel is prepared for such negotiations, and I am prepared for such negotiations,” he added.

Netanyahu has set July 1 as the date for his plan to annex the Jordan Valley, which makes up some 30 per cent of the West Bank, a territory seized by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war.

The Palestinians, who claim all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, have rejected the idea.

The last Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down in 2014, mainly because of their deep divisions on the issues of the Jewish settlements and Jerusalem.

The resumption of peace talks has hit a roadblock since Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in late 2017 and moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed holy city in mid-2018.

Israel considers the entire Jerusalem as its eternal capital, a fact that is rejected by the Palestinians, who insist that East Jerusalem be the capital of their future independent state.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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