'Molcho to give Abbas PM's answer to PA letter'

Netanyahu's special envoy reportedly to meet Abbas in Ramallah, urge renewal of talks without preconditions.

May 12, 2012 18:04
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas

Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas 311 (R). (photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's special envoy Yitzhak Molcho was scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Saturday evening,  Army Radio reported.

Molcho was expected to deliver Netanyahu's answer to a PA letter sent to the prime minister last month, in which the Palestinians listed their conditions for a resumption of peace talks, according to the report.

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Army Radio added that Molcho would likely tell Abbas that Netanyahu is prepared to begin negotiations without preconditions.

Tuesday's announcement that Kadima was joining Netanyahu's coalition, and advancing the peace process would be one of the government's central goals, prompted Abbas to respond that he was prepared to engage with Netanyahu on a Middle East peace agreement if he proposes "anything promising or positive."

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Abbas said that Netanyahu had to realize that Jewish settlements in the West Bank were destroying hopes of peace and must cease. "I will not return to the negotiations without freezing settlement activities," he said, enunciating each word to give added emphasis.

Abbas sent a letter last month to Netanyahu that was widely viewed as an ultimatum, setting out parameters for the stalled talks to resume.

Abbas said he had no intention of letting his people take up arms against the Israelis, but he would be ready to renew his unilateral push for international recognition of statehood at the United Nations if there was no breakthrough.


"If there is anything promising or positive of course we will engage," he said, speaking in his headquarters in Ramallah, the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority.

He predicted the United States might also try to bring fresh ideas to the table. US-brokered talks broke down in 2010 in a dispute over continued Jewish settlement-building in the occupied West Bank.

"If nothing happens, at that time we will go to the United Nations to get non-member status," he said, referring to a possible vote in the UN General Assembly.

Palestinian efforts to get full recognition via the UN Security Council failed in 2011 in the face of US opposition. The General Assembly cannot grant full UN membership, but a Palestinian initiative there cannot be vetoed by Washington and a successful vote would offer a symbolic victory.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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