Israeli ambassador Mark Regev has told the Board of Deputies that Israel cannot make peace with the Palestinians until they recognise the right of Jews to sovereign state.
Regev, making his first address to the Board’s plenary on Sunday, said: “While Israel has been celebrating its 68th birthday, there are people marking Naqba Day – what the Palestinians and their supporters describe as the catastrophe that was the creation of Israel.”
The Australian-born envoy noted, however, that the “Palestinians could have been celebrating 68 years of independence, too”.
The Zionist movement “embraced the partition in 1947, even though it was not all that we wanted. But what was the response of the Palestinian leadership? They said no.
“And it wasn’t the first time. They rejected a two-state solution in 1937, when they said no to the Peel Commission. They said no wat Camp David in 2000 and they said no again in 2008.”
This was because, Regev said, “they don’t want to live in peace with Israel or accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in the Middle East in any borders. And I fail to understand how there can be peace without that.”
He assured the Board that Israel “makes no pre-conditions for entry into peace talks. We want peace as it is to our and their benefit – but these must be direct talks where they will in the end accept the right of Jews to self-determination”.
Regev was asked why so many Holocaust survivors were living in poverty in the Jewish state, answering that Israel has done “a lot to help the survivors. Of course, we could do more, but we have spent millions on the survivors”.