We say that the Palestinian people have a right to a national state of its own. And we also say that the Palestinians must recognize the right of the Jewish people to a national state of its own.

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

"I would like to reiterate here what I said in Ashkelon. I am impressed by the expansion of Ashkelon, the smokestacks which one may see behind us, and of Sderot, which is spread out before us. Communities have expanded despite the designs of our enemies.

I would like to say that the Government’s and my commitment to the residents of Sderot, Ashkelon and the communities of the south is total and genuine. It finds expression in many areas but, first of all, in security. Upon taking office, I decided upon a policy which says that any firing of missiles or rockets at our territory would meet a strong and rapid response. As a result, we have seen a decline, even if from time to time we experience such firing, and I very much suggest that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist organizations, after having already felt our strength, not test our complete determination. This is a good offer and they should take it seriously."

In response to a question, Prime Minister Netanyahu added:

"My goal is not to conduct a process but to complete it. My goal is to reach an historic peace agreement between us and our Palestinian Authority neighbors. Now, I think that I expressed this in my 14 June 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech one of the two most important principles for completing such a peace, and that is my willingness – and that of Israel – to recognize a Palestinian national state.

We say that the Palestinian people have a right to a national state of its own. And we also say that the Palestinians must recognize the right of the Jewish people to a national state of its own. They need to recognize the Jewish state. The fact that they do not recognize it, that they are trying to avoid such a simple statement, raises doubts. It raises questions on the Israeli side. Why do you not agree? Why? Why are you using all kinds of excuses? You say: we do not call Israel by name. I spoke about the name of the Palestinian state? I did not; I spoke about its essence. I called it the national state of the Palestinian people. And when the Palestinians refuse say something so simple, the question is – why? You want to flood the State of Israel about refugees so that it will no longer have a Jewish majority? You want to tear off parts of the Galilee and the Negev into mini-states? And the citizens of Israel who are not Jewish? In a peace agreement, there will be simplest symmetry: Israel recognizes the Palestinian state – and the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state. This is so simple. It is so just, so correct and so urgent. I say to Abu Mazen: Recognize the Jewish state."

Question: "Mr. Prime Minister, as you have said, I would like to receive a simple answer. What will happen next Monday? Are you going back to build, build everywhere, build only in a few places, build in a restrained manner? What exactly will happen next Monday? Did you think it will lead to a rupture in the talks? Will you or one of your people raise the issue of releasing the spy Jonathan pollard in exchange for an extension of the freeze? And if I may, the Chief-of-Staff recently said that a rupture in the talks would lead to a wave of violence, is this also your concern?"

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "I very much hope that Abu Mazen will stay in the talks and that he will not turn his back on peace. Whoever leaves the talks in effect turns his back on peace because we will only achieve peace at the negotiating table. I called for accelerated negotiations within one year in order to achieve a framework agreement. How will we achieve this? Not at the table? Only if we are at the table. Now, the issue of construction has been at in dispute for 17 years and we have had peace talks, including in the last year of the previous government, which Abu Mazen said were good talks and they were held while construction was going on. We made a gesture of ten months so that we might enter into negotiations. I regret that we entered them after more than nine months had passed. We said, "There will be no preconditions," because one cannot say five minutes later, "But there are precondition." The intention is to hold peace negotiations and reach an agreement on two states: One is a state for the Jewish People, a national state, a Jewish state – and one is a Palestinian national state, a Palestinian state. I believe that this is possible, but we must stay in the negotiations. By Sunday, you can ask me again. By Monday, you ask me several times. You asked me another question. There is no need for a special event to raise the issue of Jonathan Pollard. I spoke about this at my first meeting with US president Barack Obama and I have spoken with the Americans since then, several times, regardless. We are trying to bring Jonathan, to return him to the country after 25 years in an American prison."

Question: "Sir, over the last two days, the issue of a referendum has been raised by [Likud] MK [Ofir] Akonis. Do you, in fact, support this?"

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "I told MK Ofir Akonis that I would consider it. I will consider it because I am looking, or it is clear to me at least that regarding any agreement I bring, if we can indeed complete the period of negotiations and courageously reach an agreement that will both preserve security and ensure recognition of Israel, if we reach such an agreement, then it is self-evident that it will need to be decided upon by the people one way or another. There are several ways in which this could be decided on by the Israeli public and it is clear to you that on such a thing or such a decision, a majority is what a national decision requires. There are various ways to achieve this. I will consider the way that MK Akonis is proposing."