Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Jerusalem for talks, four days after Abbas said in a Channel 2 interview that he was waiting for such an invitation.
“A few days ago on Israeli television, I heard President Abbas say that if I invited him to meet, he’d come,” Netanyahu said before a meeting with Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek. “So, as I said this morning to an American congressional delegation, I’m inviting him again. I’m clearing my schedule this week. Any day he can come, I’ll be here.”
Netanyahu said that he and Abbas had “a lot of things to discuss, but the first thing is ending the Palestinian campaign of incitement to murder Israelis.” Netanyahu said his door was “always open to those who want to pursue peace with Israel.”
During Thursday’s Channel 2 interview, Abbas said he had offered to meet Netanyahu.
“I will meet with him, at any time. And I suggested, by the way, for him to meet,” he said in English.
Asked what became of that overture, Abbas said: “No, no – it’s a secret. He can tell you about it.”
President Reuven Rivlin also addressed Abbas’ comments during a meeting with Zaorálek, saying that he, too, would be willing to meet the Palestinian leader to promote negotiations between the sides.
“Without mutual trust between the sides there won’t be negotiations and there won’t be a solution,” he said, adding that Abbas’ recent comments were a “little more promising.”
In addition to expressing a willingness to meet Netanyahu, Abbas said in last week’s interview that he was working to stop Palestinian knife attacks and other street violence against Israelis.
“He said he believed that it was necessary to stop all types of terrorism and find a way back to negotiations. But as long as Abu Mazen believes in fundamentalism and doesn’t abandon the aim to destroy Israel or the Hamas ideology that there is no way to accept Israel, or that only a cease-fire is possible with Israel, then we will get nowhere,” Rivlin said of the Palestinian Authority president.
Rivlin emphasized that if Abbas in fact intends to work to stop the terrorism and if he is honest regarding his desire to return to direct talks, then the way should be found.
“We need to find a way to build mutual trust. I am prepared to meet him with the coordination of the State of Israel of course,” he said.
Zaorálek, meanwhile, told Netanyahu that his country – widely considered Israel’s strongest supporter inside the EU – regards the Jewish state as “our unique strategic partner.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Prague in May for the fourth time as prime minister. In addition to meeting Netanyahu, Zaorálek also met Monday with ministers Gila Gamliel and Ophir Akunis.
Zaorálek told Gamliel that the cooperation between the two countries is unprecedented, something especially important at a time of dramatic change in the region and amid the challenge of facing the threat of terrorism.
Zaorálek said that this summer the Czech Republic will appoint a permanent representative to Israel in the field of cyber security.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.