PM Netanyahu: "It’s time to put aside pre-conditions. It’s time to get on with direct talks – formal direct talks for peace."
Sen Mitchell: "I had a good visit at Kerem Shalom today, and we appreciate the changes that have been made – there’s been a great deal of progress in terms of permitting additional goods into Gaza."
PM Netanyahu: Welcome.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you. My pleasure.
PM Netanyahu: Good to see you, George. If you want to say a few things to our public, if you’re prepared – I’m happy to hear your comments.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. I appreciate the opportunity to see you again. As I told you earlier, I had a good visit at Kerem Shalom today, and we appreciate the changes that have been made – there’s been a great deal of progress in terms of permitting additional goods into Gaza, and I was assured by your people there that whatever the demand is, the capacity will be there to meet it.
And so we think it’s an important step that’s been taken for which we express our appreciation and we look forward to working with you further in that regard at further steps that will be taken in the near future. And I look forward of course to continuing our efforts to move forward to a comprehensive peace in the region.
PM Netanyahu: Thank you, George. I’m glad to hear your comments about improvements at Kerem Shalom and the transport of civilian goods into Gaza – that’s very much our policy and we consulted closely with you and the President on this. I am very happy to see you.
I think you’re an indefatigable worker and traveler and ambassador for peace and we are now in the midst of proximity talks which we discussed from the start as a corridor to direct talks. I think the time has come for direct talks. The Palestinians raise their grievances. We have grievances. They raise all sorts of questions. We raise all sorts of questions.
But I think it’s time to put aside posturing. It’s time to put aside pre-conditions. It’s time to get on with direct talks – formal direct talks for peace. And I call on President Abu Mazen to come to Jerusalem. I’m prepared to go to Ramallah. I think that this is the only way that we’ll solve the intricate problems that we’re discussing between us that I think can only be resolved substantively if we actually sit down, face one another in the same place and actually engage in serious deliberations for a solution.
But I also think that there’s something else. The best way that the Palestinian Authority can persuade the Israeli public that they’re ready to live in peace with us is to talk peace with us – to talk directly. And I think this is a tremendous advantage – I hope and I believe that a main part of our – my conversations with President Obama in Washington next week will be focused on how to start direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians right away. And this is, I know, shared by you and I hope we get on with it.
Senator Mitchell: Well, I can say to you that it is and has been the policy of the United States to support entry into direct negotiations as soon as possible, and we continue to work to create the conditions in which that will be possible and there can be the kind of progress made that we believe is, we know you share, our belief that it is best for the people of Israel, for the Palestinian people and we believe it’s in the interest of the United States. So we will continue our efforts to create those conditions and to enable those discussions to begin at the earliest possible time.
PM Netanyahu: Thank you.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.
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Special Envoy George Mitchell visit the Kerem Shalom crossing (June 30, 2010)