Netanyahu and Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to hold direct talks with Israel, prior to departing Tuesday morning for New York to address the 70th opening session of the UN General Assembly.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement that said Netanyahu “again calls” on Abbas “to return immediately to the negotiating table in order to advance the diplomatic process.”
In his UN speech on Thursday, Netanyahu is also expected to address the frozen peace process, to speak out against Palestinian incitement and against the continued rioting on the Temple Mount, such as those that occurred on Sunday and Monday.
Netanyahu heads to New York as the international community has intensified its efforts to renew the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, which fell apart in April 2014.
US President Barack Obama did not mention a renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace process when he addressed the General Assembly on Monday.
But the Quartet this Wednesday is expected to hold a meeting on the matter on the sidelines of the session.
Netanyahu will be meeting in New York with both US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday and UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday, and is expected to speak with them about the conflict with the Palestinians.
On Monday Ban told the General Assembly, “We must also guard against the dangerous drift in the Middle East Peace Process. With settlements expanding and incitement and provocations on the rise, it is essential for Israelis and Palestinians to reengage – and for the international community to pressure the parties to do so. The world can no longer wait for leaders to finally choose a path to peace.”
Abbas, who has pushed to resolve the conflict through the international community rather than by holding direct talks with Israel, will address the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
After Abbas’s address, the Palestinians are expected to hold a flag-raising ceremony. Earlier this month the General Assembly voted to allow nonmember states such as Palestine to fly their flags at the UN.
In an interview with AP over the weekend, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi also called for a renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
He added that other Arab countries should make peace with Israel, just as Egypt has done.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in response, “The government of Israel welcomes Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s call to expand the peace with Israel to include additional Arab countries.”
On Thursday, at the UN, Netanyahu is also expected to speak against the deal between Tehran and the six world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Netanyahu has argued that the deal will leave Iran with the capacity to develop nuclear weapons and emboldens it to increase its military capacity in support of global terrorism.
The General Assembly speech will be Netanyahu’s first address to the international community since the Iran deal was reached in July.
He is expected to speak of Israel’s feelings about the deal and its expectations from the international community.
“It will be a powerful speech,” an Israeli official said.
While in New York, Netanyahu will also hold meetings with Jewish community leaders.