|Photo by: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman|
PM calls on Abbas to return to negotiating table
By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND KHALED ABU TOAMEH
PA asks national unity coalition adopt a platform of peace; Netanyahu: I hope Abbas will use opportunity resume talks.
The new national unity government offers an opportunity to rekindle the stalled
peace talks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday as he called on
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiation
“I hope that President Abbas will use this opportunity to resume
the peace talks,” he said at a Knesset news conference where the wider coalition
Direct negotiations have been mostly frozen since
Netanyahu took office. Talks were briefly held in September 2010, but since then
there have been no face-to-face meetings.
Palestinians have insisted that
Israel stop settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem. Israel
has refused to cede to this request.
Abbas sent Netanyahu a letter last
month outlining his conditions for direct negotiations. Netanyahu’s
response has been delayed by the death of his father, Benzion, last
Abbas called Netanyahu during the seven-day shiva mourning period
to offer his condolences. Both he and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also sent
him sympathy letters.
In a rare positive note, Abbas said that Netanyahu
was his peace partner during a visit to Tunis last week.
Abbas struck a more moderate note with regards to talks, but did not announce a
return to the table.
He called on the government to use its newfound
strength to its diplomatic platform to one that would allow direct talks to
The Israeli government should seize the opportunity of Kadima’s
decision to join the coalition to accelerate the peace process with the
Palestinians, PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said Tuesday.
talks should be on the basis of United Nations resolutions in order to achieve a
just and comprehensive peace that would ensure stability and security for all
peoples in the region, Abu Rudaineh said.
“This is the appropriate time
for the Israeli government to reach peace with the Palestinian people,” he
The Palestinians hope the new Israeli coalition will be a coalition
of peace and not a coalition of war, he said.
The spokesman called on the
Israeli government to immediately comply with all the obligations of the peace
process to pave the way for the two-state solution and “the establishment of a
Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its
Israel has insisted that talks should be held without
“The Quartet suggested a few months ago a straightforward
procedure: the resumption of direct negotiations without preconditions. That has
always been our position and that is our position now,” Netanyahu said. “I do
not know how you advance negotiations, let alone conclude them without engaging
in them. We are prepared to engage in them at any time.”
“The process is
not stuck because of us, that is the truth,” he added. “It is stuck because
until the Palestinians have not decided to sit and negotiate with us.”
the Knesset news conference, Mofaz said he hoped that the government would adopt
this approach to the peace process.
“I prepared a plan that speaks of
borders and security arrangements first,” Mofaz said. “I believe that this is
the direction that the State of Israel should negotiate with the
Last month he discussed his plan in detail with The
Jerusalem Post. He explained that he envisioned a two-step process, which calls
for a 100 percent withdrawal from the West Bank with land swaps.
first phase, the Palestinians would have control of Areas A and B in the West
Bank, as well as 20% of Area C, so that the land from Jenin to Hebron would be
contiguous, he told the Post. It is possible to do this, he said, without
He said his plan would enable 250,000 settlers to
remain in their West Bank homes. Israel would retain the settlements of Ma’aleh
Adumim, Ariel and Gush Etzion. The Jordan Valley, he said, could be leased for
25 years and the Hebron Jews could be allowed to stay through a special
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.