Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to reassure his right-wing Likud bloc in Israel's ruling coalition on Monday he would not bow to territorial concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians.
"You don't need to worry. Nobody needs to teach me what it is to love Eretz Israel," he told Likud members, using a biblical term for the Land of Israel, at a meeting to prepare for the Jewish New Year which starts on September 8.
Eretz Israel stretches from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, including the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Israeli government has ordered a 10-month partial moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank that expires on September 26, with most Likud members opposed to an extension.
"I'm aware of the difficulties but I believe a peace accord can be obtained," said Netanyahu on the eve of his departure for Washington where direct Israeli-Palestinian talks are to resume Thursday after a 20-month break.
"The government of Israel wants to progress on the path to peace... We want a real peace, for generations to come, and only the Likud government can bring about this peace," said the premier who heads a centre-right coalition.
On Sunday, he said in the run-up to the U.S.-brokered talks that Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland is chief among essential components for a peace deal.
An agreement would have to be based "first of all on recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people, an end to the conflict and an end to further demands on Israel," Netanyahu said.
You don't need to worry. Nobody needs to teach me what it is to love Eretz Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu