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Netanyahu prepared to talk to Palestinian Authority

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets supporters at the party's election headquarters In Tel Aviv. Photo: AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets supporters at the party's election headquarters In Tel Aviv. Photo: AP

AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets supporters at the party's election headquarters In Tel Aviv. Photo: AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last night that he remained open to the possibility of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

He also called for the Palestinian Authority to "engage" with Israel on peace talks, despite the fact that he has said he would never agree to a Palestinian state.

He insisted he was "proud to be the prime minister of all Israeli citizens, Arabs and Jews alike" after triggering outrage for urging supporters to vote for him, warning Israeli Arabs were "turning out in droves."

He also called for the Palestinian Authority to cut its ties to Hamas militants running the Gaza Strip and engage in "genuine" peace talks with Israel.

The veteran Israeli leader had raised global alarm when he vowed in the final days of the election campaign that he would never agree to a Palestinian state on his watch - flying in the face of decades of US policy to achieve a two-state solution.

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The White House said last night that US officials had been in touch with their Israeli counterparts about scheduling a phone call between President Obama and Mr Netanyahu, adding it could happen within the next 24 hours.

In his first interview with a US television network since winning an unprecedented fourth term on Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu did not completely take back those comments.

But he suggested he remained open to the possibility of new peace talks, saying Israel would "need the recognition of (a) Jewish state and real security in order to have a realistic two-state solution".

"I was talking about what is achievable and what is not achievable," Mr Netanyahu said.

"To make it achievable, then you have to have real negotiations with people committed to peace... it's time we saw the pressure on the Palestinians to show that they are committed too."

Iran, which backs Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was ready to start pouring arms into the West Bank run by the Palestinian Authority, Mr Netanyahu claimed.

"We withdrew from Gaza, we got thousands of rockets on our heads. (We) don't want it to happen again," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk