Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday that
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was not interested in reaching a peace agreement with Israel. Speaking during a visit to Cyprus, he said that the Palestinians spend time blaming Israel rather than working to
solve their own internal problems.
Liberman's comments came the same day as a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian officials.
At the meeting, Netanyahu promised the Palestinian delegation which met with him at his home in Jerusalem Tuesday evening that he would send a letter to Abbas in two weeks.
The document will be personally delivered by an Israeli delegation. It will be will be a response to a letter from Abbas which the Palestinian delegation delivered to Netanyahu.
Netanyahu and Abbas have not met since September 2010. On Tuesday, however, Netanyahu spoke with PA negotiator Saeb Erekat and the head of Palestinian intelligence Gen. Majad Faraj in Jerusalem.
Relations between Netanyahu and the Palestinian delegation were good during the hour and twenty minute long meeting.
Netanyahu and his office is now examining the Palestinian letter. A preliminary reading, however, indicates that the information falls along known lines and that there is not much that was presented which is new.
Israel plans to continue with its efforts to put the peace process back on track and hoped the exchange of letters between the two leaders would advance the peace process.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who had been expected to meet with Netanyahu, did not join the delegation. The two men have not held a face to face meeting while they have been in office. Israeli officials said they had understood earlier today that Fayyad did not plan to arrive.
Fayyad was reluctant to be seen as engaging with Israel on a day when more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike to protest against their conditions in Israeli jails, said sources in Ramallah.
Sources in Ramallah said that Fayyad decided to pull out of the delegation because the meeting was taking place on the same day that the Palestinians marked 'Prisoner Day.'
The source said that Fayyad thought it would be inappropriate for him to meet with Netanyahu on the same day that hundreds of Palestinian prisoners went on hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups had criticized the planned meeting, saying it was an "insult" to the prisoners and their families.
PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo, who was also supposed to join the delegation, also decided to stay away in the last minute, apparently for similar reasons.
Earlier, an Israeli official said Netanyahu would reiterate his call for talks to resume without any preconditions and for a meeting with Abbas.
The last-minute cancellation may cast new light on divisions within the Palestinian political establishment, which has struggled to craft a winning strategy to achieve statehood.
The letter could serve as a prelude to a renewed unilateral Palestinian move for statehood recognition in the United Nations, an effort suspended last autumn amid stiff opposition from Washington and Israel.
Palestinians said the letter would accuse Israel of failing to carry out its obligations under a 2003 "road map" agreed by both sides, which include a halt to settlement activity.
Jpost.com staff contributed to this report
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