Abbas phones Netanyahu to express condolences

Palestinian Authority president calls prime minister to offer his sympathies over the death of Benzion Netanyahu.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas 390 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas 390 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday to express his condolences over the death of his father Benzion, 102, early Monday morning.
It is the third time this week that Abbas has made a positive gesture toward Netanyahu.
On Monday night in Tunisia, the PA president said that Netanyahu was his “partner for peace.” On Tuesday, he and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad sent Netanyahu separate condolence letters. They were among the first government leaders to do so.
Communication between Netanyahu and Palestinian leaders is rare, even though Ramallah is located just outside of Jerusalem.
Netanyahu’s relationship with the PA has been strained since he took office. The two men last met face to face in September 2010. He has not met in person with Fayyad since taking office.
The Palestinians have insisted that they will not speak directly with Israel until it halts West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
Israel in turn has called on the Palestinian leadership to hold direct negotiations without preconditions.
Separately on Thursday, Netanyahu received condolence notices from a number of Egyptian officials, including Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzur, its military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and intelligence chief Morad Muwafi.
Netanyahu has cancelled all of his diplomatic and political appointments this week so that he can observe the seven-day mourning period for his father.
He will return to work on Monday when the weekly cabinet meeting will be held rather than on Sunday.