Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - who is scheduled to fly to the US Tuesday
evening - said Monday night that he would like to meet with
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in New York.
"I call on the PA chair to open direct negotiations in New York, that will continue in Jerusalem and Ramallah," Netanyahu said.
Quartet meets in New York to avert Palestinian UN crisis
UN secretary general meets with Abbas before UN bid
prime minister invited Abbas to begin negotiations in order to advance
efforts towards achieving peace, instead of "wasting time with
unilateral moves," adding that the
Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations would not bring a
peaceful resolution to the crisis.
Netanyahu’s comments came in response to a filmed statement Abbas made on his
plane to New York, saying “I’m ready to meet with [Netanyahu] at any time.”
No Netanyahu-Abbas meeting is
currently scheduled during Netanyahu's five day trip to New
Earlier, senior Israeli officials said that Israel has no intention of compromising on its demand that any future parameters
for negotiations include a Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state
of the Jewish people.
comments came as Quartet envoys were scheduled to meet for a second time in two
in New York Monday night to try and hammer out a formula for a return to
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that would prevent Palestinian Authority
Mahmoud Abbas from announcing a statehood bid at the UN during his General
Assembly address there on Friday.
The Quartet envoys are reportedly still
working on a formula that would essentially have Israel agree, albeit with
reservations, to enter talks on the basis of the 1967 lines with mutual swaps,
while the Palestinians would agree to a formula that makes mention of Israel as
the nation state of the Jewish people.
While the Palestinians have
reportedly objected to any formulation of Israel as a Jewish state, Israel --
which originally was adamantly opposed to mentioning the 1967 lines -- has
moderated its position on that matter, willing to agree to enter talks on that
basis if it made clear that it had "reservations." On the Jewish state issue,
however, the senior officials said there was no room for
According to the officials, a Palestinian recognition of
Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people was critical not only because it
would signal that descendants of Palestinian refugees would return to a future
Palestinian state, not to Israel, but also because it would rule out any
possible future irredentist claims by Israeli-Arabs to link up with a future
Israeli officials said the concern was that once there
was a Palestinian state, Beduins in the South or Israeli-Arabs in the Galilee
would possibly start movements to link up with the new state. Accepting Israel
as a Jewish state would not only put to rest the dreams of Palestinian refugee
return, but any possible future irredentist claims as well.
Tony Blair related to this issue in an ABC interview on Sunday, saying that
"everybody knows that you can't have a situation in which a state of Israel -
you've got to be Jewish to live in the state of Israel. There's no intention of
doing that. On the other hand, what the Israelis want to know is, if there is an
agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, that's it, that's the end
of all claims and the essential character of the state of Israel is preserved."
Diplomatic officials said that a sign the Quartet was making progress would be
if their meetings moved from lower-level envoys, to the level of principals: US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton,
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and the UN's Ban.
among the envoys of the Quartet continued even though Abbas, who met UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday in New York, informed him of the
Palestinian intention to apply for UN membership.
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, who is scheduled to fly to New York late Tuesday evening, is slated
to meet with Ban on Wednesday, a few hours after Netanyahu meets with US
President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting. Monday
night he called on Abbas to begin negotiations with him in New York, that would
continue in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Meanwhile, US ambassador Dan Shapiro said Monday at a lecture to
haredi students at the Lander Institute in Jerusalem that the US believes that
negotiations between the sides is the only solution to two states for two
people: a Jewish state and a Palestinian state "that will live side by side in
peace and security." Shapiro said that the difficulty in getting the sides back
to negotiations stems from the deep distrust between the sides. He said that
negotiations can only succeed if there is an understanding of the framework of
the negotiations, something the US and the Quartet were currently working on. He
said that these efforts would continue, even if there was a vote at the
Shapiro said that the US was opposed to unilateral steps from either
side, including an Israeli halt to the transfer of tax revenues to the PA, a
move advocated by some in the government. Shapiro said this money paid the
salaries of PA personnel who ensure normal life in the PA, and added that three
days ago at the donor's conference in New York Israel supported providing funds
to the PA. The security cooperation between Israel and the PA was important and
should continue, he said.
Blair, meanwhile, alluded to the kind of
language that was being worked on in the Quartet when he said in the ABC
interview that what was being sought was "a way of putting together something
that allows their claims and legitimate aspirations for statehood to be
recognized whilst actually renewing the only thing that's going to produce a
state, which is a negotiation directly between the two sides." He said that the
Quartet was working on a statement that would serve as a "framework of reference
for the negotiations" that would set out "where we want to go on issues like
borders" and "all the main issues to be negotiated." Blair said a timeline was
an important element of this statement. A timeframe for the negotiations has
indeed been a long-standing Palestinian demand. While at first Netanyahu was
opposed to any deadlines, already last year he said publicly on a number of
occasions that he felt negotiations could be completed within a
Blair said that a Quartet document agreed to by both sides would
take the sting out of a UN resolution since it would be clear that the agreement
would have to be negotiated.
Meanwhile, at a special session of the
Knesset on Monday that dealt with the events in the United Nations, opposition
leader Tzipi Livni blamed the Palestinians' unilateral pursuit of a state on
"Friends of Israel no longer understand Israel's policies or
what it wants," Livni said. "The prime minister is not believed. This
government's diplomatic stupidity is putting the US in a corner.
is making sure we won't be isolated but what is our government doing? The time
has come for the prime minister to stop preventing a diplomatic process. If it
does, a vote in the UN won't be necessary and we will be able to remain a
Jewish, democratic state. Netanyahu can still make decisions to prevent the vote
in the UN. It's still not too late." Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein
responded that Livni should consider behaving with more national
"When I need an expert doctor, I make sure that all his
patients haven't died," Edelstein said. "Here comes Livni, who backed the
disengagement and said it would make the world love us, and now she wants to
give us advice. She Livni failed at negotiations and didn't achieve anything and
now she wants to tell us what to do." Gil Hoffman and Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.