Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told US Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell that Israel wants to continue negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, in a meeting on Friday in Jerusalem.
In his opening words, Netanyahu said: "We are making a joint effort with Senator Mitchell to continue talks with [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas. We want to continue talks, and I want it."
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"We have a mission for peace," Netanyahu added.
The Palestinians have threatened to walk away from peace talks if Israel
does not renew the 10-month construction freeze that ended on Sunday.
Mitchell also plans to meet with Abbas, in an attempt to salvage the
Also on Friday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit criticized
the Palestinian Authority for its "insistence" on a moratorium on
building in the settlements.
In an interview with London-based newspaper Al-Hayat, Aboul Gheit said
waiting for a renewed freeze will only complicate peace talks, and that
the most important issue is borders. Aboul Gheit also hinted that
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not think a
settlement freeze is essential.
The meetings with Mitchell come following reports on Thursday that US President Barack
Obama had sent Israel a draft letter in which he offered security
guarantees – including a continued Israeli military presence in the
Jordan Valley after the creation of a Palestinian state – if Israel in
exchange re-instituted the moratorium on new settlement construction for
A White House and a State Department official denied the existence of such a letter.