Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended Tel Aviv’s continued illegitimate settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Netanyahu made the remarks in a speech at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv on Sunday.
Rejecting the fact that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem) are the cause of the decades-old problem, he told the Palestinians to "recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people" if they want to achieve real peace.
"The Palestinians must abandon their refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to their national state," the Israeli premier said.
Such recognition was "a condition for reaching an agreement at the end of negotiations, but not for launching them", he added.
Netanyahu also urged the Palestinians to give up the right of return for refugees.
The Palestinian right of return is a principled political position stating that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants, have a right to return, and a right to the property they or their forebears left or which they were forced to leave in 1948 and then 1967.
After a three-year hiatus, under pressure from the United States, the Palestinian Authority agreed to begin negotiations with Israeli officials in late July to end the long-running conflict based on the so-called two-state solution. The negotiations have so far yielded no results.
The talks are proving pointless and will not bear fruit, a top aide to acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas said on September 4.
"These negotiations are futile and won't lead to any results," Yasser Abd Rabbo stated.
Rabbo said that the continued Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds had undermined the negotiations.
"Israel did not commit to stopping settlements and we see the continuation of the settlement policy as destroying any possible chance of (a deal)," he added.
Israel has recently announced plans to build about 3,000 more illegal settlement units on the occupied Palestinian land.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.
The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbids construction on occupied lands.