Jerusalem – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that his consent to the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state depended on an Israeli presence on its eastern border, such as in the Jordan Valley. This was due to the concern of rocket smuggling from the Jordanian border.Mr. Netanyahu added, “We are surrounded by an ever-growing arsenal of rockets in Iranian pockets from north and south.”

In his annual address to the Israel Foreign Press Association, delivered Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu stressed that Israel must ensure that, at the entrances to the areas abutting Israel, there be an efficient way to stop missile smuggling. This, he said, required an Israeli presence on the eastern side of the Palestinian state.

The Israeli prime minister sounded pessimistic about renewing negotiations with the Palestinians.

“Instead of starting negotiations, the Palestinians have climbed up a tree and appear to be staying there,” he said. “The more ladders they bring them, they just climb higher up.”

Special U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, met this week with Mr. Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Mr. Mitchell arrived in Jerusalem from Lebanon and Syria, where he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who told him that, as of now, he “doesn’t see that Israel is interested in peace. There is no point to negotiations with a government that constantly declares that it is not interested in reaching a peace agreement with its neighbors, which imposes a siege on Gaza and which threatens aggression.”

Palestinian officials said yesterday that they would propose to Mr. Mitchell that the U.S. represent their interests in the talks on the permanent status arrangement with Israel and basically mediate between the sides.

Chief Palestinian Liberation Organization negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected the statements that were made by Mr. Netanyahu as if Israel would have to maintain a presence in Judea and Samaria as part of a final status arrangement.

Mr. Erekat said that “Netanyahu was trying, once again, to establish facts on the ground on his own instead of by means of negotiations.”

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com .

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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