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11.24.2014 | 2 Kislev, 5775
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Diplomacy & Politics
KHALED ABU TOAMEH, TOVAH LAZAROFF \
Palestinian official: Abbas has agreed to meet with Netanyahu
Netanyahu, Abbas 370.
(photo credit:REUTERS/Jason Reed)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to meet with Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a senior Palestinian official said
Thursday.The official claimed that Abbas has officially informed the US
administration of his agreement to meet with Netanyahu. The two leaders have not
met face-to-face since September 2010.The official was quoted by the
Palestinian Quds Net News Agency as saying that Abbas has dropped his previous
preconditions for holding a summit with Netanyahu.The official did not
specify the nature of the preconditions, though Abbas had said in the past that
he did not want a meeting with Netanyahu to be a photo-op serving Israel’s
interests alone.“The US administration played a big role in exerting
pressure on Abbas to agree to a meeting with Netanyahu,” the official disclosed.
“We expect the meeting to take place in Jerusalem in the next few
days.”In response, a source in Abbas’s office said it was “premature” to
talk about a summit between the two.The source acknowledged that
Washington had suggested to Abbas that he meet with Netanyahu in the context of
efforts to boost the peace process.The US and the Prime Minister’s
Office had no comment on the matter, although Netanyahu has in the past
repeatedly called on the PA leader to meet with him, saying he would drive to
Ramallah for talks with Abbas.US Secretary of State John Kerry hinted at
the possibility of a meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu when he spoke last
month in New York at the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee.Kerry
explained that the peace process renewed at the end of July had two tracks, the
first of which involved the conversations between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni
and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat that have taken place in the last
few months.“But the second track is Prime Minister Netanyahu, President
Abbas, and myself and President Obama. And as needed, as we think appropriate,
as we need to move the process, we will be consulting among each other and
working to move this process forward,” Kerry said.News of a possible
meeting comes at a time when politicians in the PA and Israel have called for
the talks to end.PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi added her
voice to those calling on the PA leadership to pull out of the peace talks with
Israel.“There is no benefit in the negotiations after the force of
occupation [has] emptied them from their goal,” Ashrawi said in a
statement.She accused Israel of seeking to destroy the prospects for
peace and the two-state solution.Ashrawi called on the Arab and Islamic
countries to “break their silence and move immediately to stop the policy of
Judaizing the Aksa Mosque and crimes perpetrated by Israel under the looking eye
of the world.”Ashrawi’s remarks came in response to the Jerusalem
Municipality’s decision to build 58 housing units in the city’s Pisgat Ze’ev
neighborhood, and “price-tag” assaults by extremist Jews against Palestinians.
She also strongly condemned visits to the Temple Mount by “settler gangs and
their rabbis.”Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat also condemned the
decision to build new homes in Pisgat Ze’ev.“Israel has an obsession to
intensify its aggression against Palestine and its people while we are trying to
reach a negotiated solution,” Erekat charged.“Our position is clear and
in line with international law: all Israeli settlements in Palestine are
illegal. Settlement construction in occupied east Jerusalem, Ariel and Kiryat
Arba is illegal and undermines the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution.
If Israel is serious about peace, they must cease all settlement
activities.”Right-wing Israeli politicians in turn have called on
Netanyahu to end the talks in light of the Palestinian infiltration into the
Psagot settlement – in which a nine-yearold girl was lightly wounded – and the
killing of two soldiers by Palestinians in Hebron and near Kalkilya. These
politicians include Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud) and members of
the Bayit Yehudi party, including Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel.
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