Israel, PA pledge commitment to peace

Netanyahu's envoy delivers letter to Abbas; J Street's Ben Ami also meets PA president.

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)
Israel and the Palestinian Authority pledged their commitment to peace, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's envoy Yitzhak Molcho travelled to Ramallah Saturday night to deliver a letter on his behalf to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office after the meeting said, "Israel and the Palestinian Authority are committed to achieving peace and the sides hope that the exchange of letters between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu will further this goal."
The letter from Netanyahu comes in response to one which Abbas sent him last month in which he stated that talks would only be renewed when Israel froze construction in east Jerusalem and the settlements.
This written exchange is the latest attempt to revive the frozen peace process. The two men have not met face to face since September.
Earlier in the day Abbas received a phone call from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and discussed with her the latest developments in the region.
A PA official said that Abbas urged the US administration to intervene with Israel to accept the demands of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike for the past few weeks.
Abbas also met Saturday in Ramallah with a delegation from US-based Israel lobby group J Street and briefed it on the latest developments surrounding the stalled peace process. During the meeting Abbas reiterated his commitment to the peace process and the two-state solution.
Abbas said that he would be prepared to return immediately to the negotiating table if the Israeli government accepted the two-state solution and agreed to freeze construction of new homes in the West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem, the PA official said.
J Street President Jeremy Ben- Ami told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas also spoke of the need for an upfront commitment from Israel that a final status agreement would be based on the 1967 line with agreed land swaps.
The meeting came toward the end of an eight-day J Street trip to the region, which included a stop in Jordan and a visit with its King Abdullah II.
According to Ben-Ami, Abbas told the delegation that he is deeply committed to the twostate solution and is looking for a diplomatic route forward.
Ben-Ami said the impression he received from the trip is that the window of opportunity for a two-state solution is slipping way.
“The time has come for action,” he said.
Netanyahu has consistently called on Abbas to return to the negotiating table without preconditions.
He issued his latest call to Abbas to hold direct negotiations last Tuesday during a joint press conference with Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz, in which the two men announced the formation of a 94-member national unity government.
On Friday evening UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Netanyahu to congratulate him on the expanded coalition.
Netanyahu also spoke on Friday evening with incoming Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and congratulated him on his new position. The two leaders spoke of joint activities between their countries.