- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu couldn’t be clearer: Peace talks with the Palestinians will not come with strings, including one aimed at freezing construction in contested settlement areas.

He made the blunt statements on Monday on the heels of news that Palestinians had turned down a previous offer to talk peace, pending the release of prisoners, The Times of Israel reported. Mr. Netanyahu also made the remarks just ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s planned fifth visit to the region in the past four months — a subtle warning to ward off any attempts to trade political favors to initiate peace talks.

Mr. Netanyahu said any such stipulations would be seen by Israel as an “impassable obstacle,” The Times of Israel reported.

Mr. Netanyahu also said that Israel isn’t requiring the Palestinians to do anything as a condition for talks. The Palestinians — and he pointed fingers at Palestinian Authority leadership — shouldn’t do it, either, The Times of Israel reported.

On top of that, Mr. Netanyahu said that whenever Israel has tried to meet certain conditions as precursors to peace talks, it’s never worked well. The Palestinians, in turn, always up their demands, he said.

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