Netanyahu and Abbas.
(photo credit: LOIC VENANCE / AFP)
Preparatory talks paving the way for a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are superfluous, a diplomatic source said on Sunday, adding that if Abbas wants to meet Netanyahu, it can be arranged immediately.
The source was responding to Palestinian claims reported on Israel Radio that Jerusalem refused to hold such a preparatory session between top Israeli and Palestinian officials before a possible Netanyahu-Abbas meeting under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt.
According to the report, the Netanyahu- Abbas summit in Egypt would be a way of preparing the ground for an international peace conference the French are planning for before the end of the year.
The Israeli diplomatic source reiterated what Netanyahu has been saying for months – that he is willing to meet with Abbas without any precondition anytime, anywhere.
“The experience of the past has shown that the preparatory meetings the Palestinians are demanding are only a way of placing preconditions on the very holding of negotiations, something not acceptable to Israel,” the diplomatic source said. “If Abu Mazen [Abbas] is interested in meeting, the prime minister is willing to do so immediately.”
Netanyahu has come out squarely against a French-led international conference, saying it is an effort to impose a solution on Israel, and that what is needed instead are direct negotiations.
He has, however, come out in support of a summit in Cairo with Abbas under Egyptian auspices, and with the involvement of other Arab states in the region.
Israel Radio quoted a senior Palestinian official as saying that if Netanyahu boycotts the planned international conference, the Palestinians should expect France and the other countries taking part in the parley to recognize a Palestinian state, open up embassies in “Palestine” and boycott the settlements.
In a related development, Netanyahu plans to fly to New York on September 20 to speak at the annual UN General Assembly meeting.
He is scheduled to speak on September 22, and will return to Israel on September 25.
While Netanyahu is expected to meet on the sidelines of the General Assembly with numerous world leaders, no meeting with US President Barack Obama has yet been set. Netanyahu last met with Obama in Washington in November.