JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready to enter serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians, while his coalition partner Naftali Bennett said a pact would lead to more violence.
“Our fervent hope is for peace, a genuine peace that can be achieved only through direct negotiations without preconditions,” Netanyahu said at the start of a meeting Tuesday morning with Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. “We’re ready to enter such negotiations. I hope the Palestinians are, too.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to arrive in Israel late this week in a bid to bring the two sides back to the peace table.
Bennett, head of the Jewish Home Party, told Israel Radio Tuesday morning that a peace agreement with the Palestinians would lead to more rocket attacks and rock throwing.
“If you look at when there’s violence, it follows peace agreements,” Bennett said. “The public sometimes forgets, but an overwhelming majority of the Palestinian public voted for Hamas.”
He added that he “won’t oppose negotiations” just so long as there are no preconditions.
The Palestinians have called for a freeze on construction in the settlements and the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails before they will return to the negotiating table.
The Palestinian Authority denied a report Monday on Israel’s Channel 2 that P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas was prepared to resume talks.