Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
Israel and the US were prepared to pay the price for peace talks, but the Palestinian Authority went back on agreements, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said on Wednesday in a meeting with the Friends of Israel Initiative in the Knesset.
The Knesset speaker pointed out that releasing terrorists was a controversial decision in Israel and a high price for talks, but the government was willing to pay it.
The US was prepared to free Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard after nearly 29 years in prison, which is also a significant gesture, Edelstein added.
The Palestinians were asked not to unilaterally turn to the UN during negotiations, but they did not comply, he said.
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision tosign applications to join international organizations is an outrageous violation of the conditions to renew negotiations, since the Palestinians committed to not taking unilateral steps to receive international recognition during the talks,” Edelstein explained.
When a member of the Friends of Israel Initiative asked whether an end to talks could hurt the relationship between Israel and the EU, Edelstein said agreements between the two are a joint interest and that the EU gains from them.
“These agreements can’t be described as charity by the EU.
It’s a mistake to connect them to negotiations,” he said.
The Friends of Israel Initiative, a forum of former senior officials from around the world led by former Spanish president José María Aznar, seeks to “counter the growing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders.”
The group includes the first president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo and former German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.
Edelstein encouraged the group to tell the truth around the world, specifically addressing claims that Israel is an apartheid state.
“If you turn Israel into a monster, you can turn any democracy in the world into a monster,” he said.
Aznar told the speaker that the Friends of Israel Initiative has a “personal commitment to the existence of the State of Israel, to the democracy of the State of Israel and to the future of the State of Israel.”
Toledo said that those who support Israel are not being charitable. Rather, “we are defending our values and interests.”