RAMALLAH, West Bank – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's parameters for a peace deal, outlined in a speech to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday fell far short of what is needed to resume negotiations, Palestinian officials said.
Nabil Shaath, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Netanyahu's insistence on keeping key parts of the territories the Palestinians want for their state is a "declaration of war against the Palestinians."
They have said they are ready for minor border adjustments through land swaps, to enable Israel to annex several of the largest of the dozens of Jewish settlements it has built on war-won land since 1967.
Netanyahu said he is willing to make "generous" territorial concessions, but also told Congress that Jerusalem must remain united as Israel's capital and that Israel wants to keep key areas of the West Bank where tens of thousands of Jews have settled, as well as areas of strategic importance.
Abbas is set to meet with leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization and his Fatah movement on Wednesday to discuss their next move. The Palestinians have developed an alternate strategy to moribund negotiations, largely on hold since 2008, and have said they will seek U.N. recognition of their state in September.
Shaath said the Palestinians would continue to pursue these strategies. "We have nothing but to continue our struggle in the international arena and to continue building our state and to continue our popular struggle," he said, referring to demonstrations and protests against Israeli occupation.
In two policy speeches in recent days, President Barack Obama said that the pre-1967 war line must serve as the basis for negotiations, while allowing for mutually agreed land swaps. The Palestinians have said negotiations can resume only if Netanyahu commits to that principle and halts settlement construction.
"What Netanyahu said in his speech tonight is a clear rejection of the suggestions of President Obama concerning the borders of 1967," said Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh. "Actually, what he did is that he put more obstacles in the path of peace."