Zaorálek says becoming harder to back Israel; Palestinians repeatedly ‘run away’ from peace: Netanyahu

The Czech Republic’s foreign minister warned Monday that it will become increasingly difficult for his country to maintain its pro-Israel position if Israel fails to take viable steps toward establishing a Palestinian state.

Lubomír Zaorálek said that Israel risks suffering international isolation if it doesn’t change its policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“As a close friend of yours, it is important for the Czech Republic to say that if the situation does not change it will be hard to maintain our position,” Zaorálek said in an interview with the Walla news site during a trip to Israel.

“We want to avoid initiatives against Israel, but it is getting more difficult with the current government and with the opposition to the two-state solution,” he said. “What is the alternative, to deteriorate towards apartheid?”

When speaking to a Czech news agency, Zaorálek criticized settlement building and said that the policy is threating hopes of achieving a lasting peace. “If the building of settlements continues on the territories that fall under Palestinian autonomy, and on which no decision has been made that they should belong to Israel … it is actually a direct torpedoing of this process, [namely] the formation of two independent states,” Zaorálek said.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Zaora’lek, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the Palestinians for a failure to reach an agreement.

He said that the world should hold the Palestinians accountable for their continuing tactic of fleeing peace talks, which Israel has always shown itself ready to engage in.

“They ran away from Barak; they ran away from Sharon; they ran away from Olmert; they ran away from me,” Netanyahu said, listing the names of Israeli prime ministers who have attempted to reach an agreement with the Palestinians but failed to do so.

“What they do is they refuse to negotiate, refuse to deal with the framework of John Kerry, in the White House, run to Hamas, which calls for our destruction, go to the UN and try to get sanctions on Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister said that the Palestinians put Israel in a “Catch 22” situation. “They refuse to negotiate and then try to get boycotts on Israel for there not being negotiations which they refuse to enter,” he said.

“I think this cycle has to be stopped,” Netanyahu warned. “I think we have to get back to direct negotiations without preconditions. I think it’s important that the international community stop giving the Palestinians a free pass.”

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