Netanyahu Abbas 311 AP.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to remain in peace talks despite the lack of a settlement construction moratorium extension.In the West Bank, PLO and Fatah officials have overwhelmingly spoken out against continued negotiations.
"The way to achieve a historic peace agreement between our two peoples is to sit around the negotiating table seriously and continuously, and not leave, because this is the place to resolve the differences between us," the prime minister said.
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Following the release of Netanyahu's statement, the Prime Minister's Office on Saturday requested that the government's ministers refrain from giving interviews about the status of the peace negotiations.
Earlier in the evening, Defense
Minister Ehud Barak urged the Palestinian
leadership and all those involved in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to
take responsibility and not to allow negotiations between the sides to
come to an end.
"We all must act with discretion and perseverance in order to overcome
the obstacles before us and continue negotiations in order to get
results," Barak said in an official statement.
Barak added that, through intensive talks, the sides could find a
compromise within a week that would ensure continued negotiations.
Both statements came following comments made earlier on Saturday, when the PLO Executive Committee attempted to persuade
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to continue with
direct negotiations because of Israel's refusal to continue the building
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a
Palestinian presidential spokesperson, said that the talks would not
continue as long as Israel continues to build on land that is expected
to one day become a Palestinian state.
Abbas met with
dozens of senior Palestinians in Ramallah and sought their backing for his refusal to keep
negotiating with Israel without a slowdown in West Bank settlement
The Palestinian Authority president briefed the group about US envoy George Mitchell's latest unsuccessful attempts to narrow the gaps.
Abbas' position is clear: no negotiations under the shadow of
settlement construction," Abu Rudaineh said
before the meeting. However, he said contacts with the US would
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Mitchell, who spent four days this week shuttling
between Abbas and Netanyahu, is now trying to enlist the help of Arab
leaders, meeting with Qatari leaders on Saturday with plans to continue to Jordan on Sunday after a brief stop in Cairo.
remarks published Friday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit
issued surprising criticism of the Palestinian position of making talks
contingent on the settlement building restrictions, saying the sides
should concentrate on drawing the borders of a Palestinian state.
Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said the
international community's failure to get Israel to halt settlement
expansion does not bode well for the talks, where much more explosive
issues will be on the table, such as the partition of Jerusalem. Ashrawi
said there's a limit to Palestinian flexibility.
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