'Battle of letters’ shaping up between PM, Abbas

Netanyahu prepares diplomatic missive for Abbas, who is expected to deliver letter blaming Israel for peace impasse.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas 311 (R) (photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas 311 (R)
(photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
With Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expected to deliver a sharply-worded letter to Israel in the coming days, blaming it for the impasse in the diplomatic process, Jerusalem is preparing a letter of its own to present to the PA, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Though the final draft of the letter has not yet been completed, it is expected to contain the following points:
• Israel is prepared for peace talks with the Palestinians where all the core issues will be on the agenda.
• Israel places no preconditions whatsoever on entering the talks.
• An agreement reached must contain Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and include effective security arrangements.
Drafting of the letter comes as Abbas has been threatening for days to send his own letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Earlier this week in Cairo he said the PA leadership wrote to Netanyahu, “You have made the PA a non-authority. You have taken away from the PA all its commitments and what it was doing and supervising. Now we have been left with nothing.”
Netanyahu, speaking at a press conference Tuesday, denied reports that he had refused to see a Palestinian delegation dispatched to bring him the letter.
“I will be pleased to receive a letter from Abu Mazen [Abbas],” he said. “I intend to relate to that letter, I think that is important.”
This “battle of the letters” is taking place a week before the Quartet – made up of the US, EU, Russia and the UN – is scheduled to meet in New York.
Netanyahu said at the press conference that marked the three-year anniversary of his government that he wanted to negotiate with the Palestinians from the first day he took office “because I don’t know any other way to solve the problem.”
Netanyahu said bluntly that he wanted to solve the conflict because “I don’t want a binational state.”
However, he also said that he needed to ensure the existence of the Jewish state, and this was “not only an issue of separation, but also an issue of security, defensible borders and preserving Israel’s essential interests.”
That, he said, was something that necessitated negotiation.
“There is no way to conclude negotiations if you don’t start them, and until this time the Palestinians have chosen not to conduct negotiations,” he said.
“I hope they will change that position in coming months. We are willing.”