PM: Palestinians doing all they can to avoid peace talks

In meeting with Belgian PM, Netanyahu says he's willing to go to Ramallah for negotiations; slams PA statehood bid as harmful to peace.

Netanyahu Belgian PM 311 (photo credit: Avi Ochaion/GPO)
Netanyahu Belgian PM 311
(photo credit: Avi Ochaion/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday blamed the Palestinians for the impasse in the peace process, saying he was ready to begin negotiations immediately, but that the Palestinians are doing all they can to avoid direct negotiations, Israel Radio reported.
Speaking during a meeting with his Belgian counterpart Yves Leterme, Netanyahu said that the Palestinian refusal to begin negotiations was an error on their part because the Palestinians need peace as much as Israel does. The prime minister said he would be willing to enter into negotiations, adding "[Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] can come to Jerusalem, I could go to Ramallah or we could both go to Brussels."
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The prime minister added that the Palestinian plan to seek recognition of a state at the UN in September would only serve to push back the cause of peace.
Leterme pledged Belgium's help to the Israelis and Palestinians and voiced his belief that the sides must enter negotiations in order to promote peace between them.
Netanyahu's comments came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah on Sunday that the PA was prepared to listen to any proposals that would lead to the resumption of peace talks with Israel.
Abbas reiterated his position that the peace talks should be based on a full cessation of construction in the settlements and acceptance of the pre-1967 lines as the borders of a Palestinian state. He also said that the talks should have a clear and acceptable timetable.
He said that the PA’s statehood bid was not aimed at isolating or delegitimizing Israel.
“The goal is to delegitimize occupation which must end,” he explained. “The Palestinians are the only people in the world who have remained under occupation.”
Abbas added that the Palestinians have “knocked on all doors seeking the resumption of the peace talks, which is our first, second and third option.”
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report
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