JERUSALEM, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the failure of Palestinians to recognize Israel's legitimacy, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Friday.
Netanyahu welcomed Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, to Jerusalem. Ban met Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
In his welcoming remarks, Netanyahu said Israeli settlements on the West Bank and its plans for new building in East Jerusalem are not the major obstacle in peace negotiations, according to a U.N. transcript..
"The conflict preceded the establishment of a single settlement by half a century and when we rooted out all the settlements in Gaza, the attacks continued because of this basic opposition to the Jewish state," Netanyahu said.
Ban responded he believes Netanyahu understands peace with the Palestinians is necessary for Israel to "realize its potential." He welcomed the resumption of talks after a three-year hiatus.
Netanyahu said the settlements issue "has to be resolved" but is not the deepest problem.
"The real issue is how to get a demilitarized Palestinian state to finally recognize and accept the one and only Jewish state," he said. "These and other matters of course will I'm sure inform our discussions."