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Netanyahu and Hollande.(Photo by: Courtesy Government Press Office)
Netanyahu tells Hollande: Feel free to call Abbas
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
10/31/2012
PM says he would be happy to meet PA president to rekindle peace talks; French president calls it a "wonderful proposal."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he would be happy to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud in Paris to re-kindle the long frozen peace talks.

He spoke about the possibility of peace talks in Paris in response to questions by reporters during a joint press conference in that city with French President Francois Hollande.

The French leader called on both Israelis and Palestinian to rekindle the talks, which have been largely dormant for the last four years.

“I am willing to go to negotiations right away without any preconditions,” Netanyahu said.

“If you want to test that, then President Hollande can invite President Abbas to the Élysée, and I’m here, I’m ready. It will take him a day to get here. We can start. From my point of view it’s immediate, and without preconditions,” Netanyahu said.

Hollande seemed please by his words.

“That is a wonderful proposal,” Hollande responded.

“I have meet Abbas twice since my election and I hope the third meeting will be held with Prime Minister Netanyahu if he [Abbas] agrees,” Hollande said.

“But the idea is not to lay down basic principles, but to enter into negotiations,” said Hollande.

He added that he hoped both men would come to the table without pre-conditions.

“Abbas says he has no pre-conditions. The Israeli prime minister has no pre-conditions,” said Hollande. “Lets negotiate,” he added.

Netanyahu responded, “President Hollande is free to make a phone call.”

Holland said that he believed a two state solution was best achieved through negotiations.

He spoke against unilateral measures such as the Palestinian bid for non-member state status at the United Nations, a move that would grant them de-facto recognition of statehood.

“It is tempting for the Palestinian Authority to seek from the General Assembly what it can not achieve from negotiations with Israel,” said Hollande.

His words sounded different from that of his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, under whose leadership France supported the Palestinian bid last fall to become a member state of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

An Israeli official said he believed that if the vote were taken again this fall, France’s position would be different.

The Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel until It stops building in West Bank settlements and Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has refused to heed that request, and has insisted that talks should move forward without preconditions.

“I was ready from the day I was elected Prime Minister. This was my policy, this will remain our policy,” he said.

The distance between Ramallah and Jerusalem is all of seven minutes. It takes longer to cross a few blocks in Paris. It’s very close. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t sit down together,” Netanyahu said.

“We understand that there will be important steps that Israel will take, there will be important steps that the Palestinian Authority will have to take. The only way we can complete a negotiation is if we begin them,” Netanyahu said.

Hollande’s words in support of a negotiated settlements, was part of a two-day visit that began on positive and friendly note, which strengthen the relationship between them.

Although there were some notes of discord, France does not support a military strike against Iran and it believes that Israel must stop settlement building.

But the two leaders also found common agreement on the need to stiffen Iranian sanctions and to combat anti-Semitism.

A senior official said that Hollande was a true friend of Israel’s.
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