benjamin netanyahu israel peace process 2016
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is ready to discuss a two-state solutionREUTERS/Sebastian Scheiner/Pool

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that he is ready to commence talks about a possible two-state solution with the Palestinians. However, Netanyahu said the discussions could not take place due to the intransigence of his Palestinian counterpart, President Mahmoud Abbas. "I am willing to begin negotiations immediately, without preconditions. Anytime, anywhere," he said.

Speaking via video link to the US-based American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) from Jerusalem, Netanyahu also said direct talks between Israel and Palestine offered the only prospect of a long term solution. UN resolutions which sought to back Palestinian statehood could actually set back the chances of a peace deal.

"A Security Council resolution to pressure Israel would further harden Palestinian positions, and thereby could actually kill the chances of peace for many, many years," said Netanyahu. "That is why I hope the US will maintain its long-standing position to reject such a UN resolution.

"Peace won't come through UN resolutions but through direct negotiations between the parties. The best formula for achieving peace remains two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarised Palestinian state finally recognises the Jewish state."

Despite keeping his distance, Netanyahu has found himself dragged into the US Presidential race. When addressing the AIPAC, Donald Trump controversially attacked Obama, saying the outgoing president "may be the worst thing that ever happened to Israel", earning applause from some members of the audience but condemnation from AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus.

Earlier Netanyahu was attacked by Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders who said that while he supported Israel's right to exist, the suffering of the Palestinians would not be ignored if he became President. "Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel's part," said Sanders.