Warning Palestinians that Israel would respond with its own one-sided steps if they resort to any unilateral steps, particularly declaration of statehood, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged to begin stalled peace negotiations between the two sides without “wasting time“.

But Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad re-asserted that the declaration of a Palestinian state would be a mere formality once the institutions of a Palestinian state are created.

“There is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the PA and any unilateral path will only unravel the framework of agreements between us and will only bring unilateral steps from Israel’s side,” Mr. Netanyahu said on Sunday in his first response to a Palestinian initiative to ask the United Nations Security Council to endorse a Palestinian state, seen as an appeal for international backing.

The path to peace in the Middle East was at the negotiating table, the Israeli premier said, adding that he was not interested in “negotiating for the sake of negotiations.”

The right-wing leader emphasised that negotiations must begin “at once and in good faith” between the two sides and that “there was no point in wasting time“.

The negotiations would not be easy, he said, and would have to cover sensitive issues.

“Israeli leaders must be brave of heart to see this go forth but so too must the Palestinians”, Mr. Netanyahu, who has been unrelenting on a Palestinian demand to freeze all construction activities in the West Bank as a pre-condition to kick start stalled peace process, said.

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