Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “anyplace and anytime,” an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday in response to a French effort to set up such an encounter.
The trouble, the official said, “is that the Palestinians have refused such a meeting.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius raised the idea of such a meeting last week during a meeting he had in Paris with Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, who is also the head of negotiations with the Palestinians. While the PMO has responded positively to the idea, the Palestinians – according to the official – continue to refuse to meet.
The feeling inside the PMO is that such a meeting could help “change the atmosphere and calm things down,” the official said.
Netanyahu himself reiterated his readiness to meet, at a press conference with the foreign press he held two weeks ago. He said he has called for such a meeting “repeatedly,” and was open to it now.
“I’ve been talking to [US Secretary of State] John Kerry and other leaders about such a meeting. I think it’s potentially useful, because it might stop the wave of incitement and the false allegations against Israel,” he said. “So, I’d be open to meeting with Arab leaders and the Palestinian leadership in order to stop this incitement and set the record straight.
“I’m willing to meet him, he’s not willing to meet me,” Netanyahu said at the time.