Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Israeli Arab leaders to mediate between Hamas and Fatah, and said he would accept any understandings that they would draw up, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.
According to the report, Abbas made the suggestion at a meeting Saturday night in Ramallah. Among those in attendance were Arab MKs, former Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei, members of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, municipal leaders, academics and businessmen.
Israel Radio quoted a participant at the meeting who said that Abbas authorized those at the meeting to mediate between the heads of Fatah and Hamas.
Abbas was also quoted as telling the group that “we need to get to every Israeli and show that we very much want peace.”
Abbas has publicly come out strongly in favor of the so-called French peace initiative that calls for an international conference at the end of the year.
On Sunday he explained why he was less favorable to the idea of an Egyptian-led initiative.
A summit hosted by the Egyptians that would include Netanyahu, Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah gained currency following Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s surprise visit to Jerusalem last month. However, further efforts to bring about such a summit have yet to bear fruit.
He said his opposition to a summit between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, along with representatives from Arab states, stems from his desire to prevent a normalization of Israeli ties with the Arab world as long as the Palestinian issue is not solved.
Abbas told the Israeli Arab meeting he would meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been calling for direct negotiations for months, if the prime minister “honored previous agreements.”
Abbas has consistently listed the preconditions to entering talks with Netanyahu. Those include release of Palestinians imprisoned prior to the Oslo Accords, a freeze on settlement construction, and Israeli acceptance of a firm timeline for negotiations based on a withdrawal to the pre-June 1967 lines.
Netanyahu has said on numerous occasions that he would negotiate with Abbas anywhere, anytime, but without preconditions.
Abbas was also quoted as saying he was opposed to a renewed armed struggle or intifada.
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