PLO: Netanyahu letter on peace a non-starter

PM's response to Abbas does not represent grounds for returning to talks, PLO Executive Committee members says.

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)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s letter is vague and does not contain clear answers regarding the central issues that hinder the resumption of the peace process, the PA leadership said Sunday.
The announcement came following a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah, whose members were briefed by Abbas on the content of Netanyahu’s reply.
Netanyahu’s response, which was delivered to Abbas Saturday night by Yitzhak Molcho, the prime minister’s special envoy, came in response to a letter which Abbas sent last month.
In his letter, Abbas demanded that Israel freeze construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem and accept the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state. He also held the Israeli government responsible for the deadlock in the peace process.
“The Israeli response does not include clear answers about the central issues hindering the resumption of the peace process, first and foremost halting growing settlement activities, especially in Jerusalem and its surroundings,” the executive committee said in a statement.
The committee also noted that Netanyahu’s response did not include clear answers regarding “recognition of the 1967 borders and the release of Palestinian prisoners.”
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting Netanyahu spoke positively about the exchange of letters.
“I hope that we will be able to advance the dialogue between the sides in order to resume the diplomatic talks,” Netanyahu told his ministers.
Netanyahu and Abbas last met face-to-face in September 2010. The prime minister has consistently called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table without preconditions.
Condemning continued construction in settlements and east Jerusalem, the PLO leadership called on Palestinians to mark “Nakba Day” on Tuesday by reaffirming the “right of return” of refugees to their original homes inside Israel.
On Monday EU Foreign Ministers are expected to issue a statement on the peace process.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.