Abbas: Netanyahu is Israel's most difficult leader

PA president tells 'Asharq Alawsat' PM isn't easy to negotiate with, will review Quartet proposals with Palestinian leadership.

PA President Abbas with PM Netanyahu 311 (R) (photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
PA President Abbas with PM Netanyahu 311 (R)
(photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is the most difficult Israeli leader to negotiate with, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with the pan-arabic daily Asharq Alawsat on Saturday.
Abbas named Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni as Israeli leaders that were easier to work with.
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Abbas also said that he would not give his opinion of the Quartet's proposals until he returns to Ramallah and discusses its provisions with Palestinian leadership there. He reiterated the return to 1967 borders and halting of settlement construction as pre-conditions to negotiations.
Israel responded positively Saturday, and the Palestinians negatively, to a formula for restarting negotiations issued by the Quartet that would place a December 2012 deadline on reaching an agreement.
“We are studying the statement, and view favorably the call for a return to direct talks,” a senior Israeli official said.
He added that the government would not respond to the proposal, which made no mention of the pre-1967 lines or Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, until Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu discussed the matter with senior cabinet ministers after returning to Israel on Monday.
The Middle East Quartet – the US, EU, Russia and the UN – has been trying for months to come up with a formula that would enable direct talks. Its formula was released on Friday afternoon, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formally submitted a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seeking full UN membership.

The Quartet statement urged the parties “to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions.”
Acknowledging that talks by themselves will not reestablish trust, the Quartet proposed the following: a “preparatory meeting” between the parties within a month to agree to an agenda and a “method of proceeding in the negotiation.” The two sides will commit that the objective is to “reach an agreement within a time frame agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012.”
Tovah Lazaroff, Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.