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Netanyahu and Abbas.(Photo by: REUTERS)
PLO official claims Abbas refused Netanyahu meeting; US denies meeting proposed
By ADAM RASGON,MICHAEL WILNER
08/11/2016
The meeting reportedly would have included the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Obama administration denied a report circulating through Palestinian media that Washington tried to broker a meeting between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We are not aware of such a proposal,” Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post.

On Thursday, a report in al-Quds, a daily Palestinian newspaper, quoted a PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani on-record claiming such a US proposal.

The report added that Majdalani said Abbas turned down the US offer to arrange a meeting with the Israeli prime minister.

Majdalani’s statements appeared to confirm another al-Quds report on Wednesday, which said “well-placed” sources revealed that a US proposal existed and Abbas rejected it.

In that report, the unknown sources suggested that the proposed meeting would have included the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Moreover, the sources said Abbas rejected the US proposal because he saw it as a clear effort to bypass the French initiative to hold an international peace conference.

Wasel Abu Yousef, another member of the PLO Executive Committee, told the Post he could not confirm al-Quds’s reports, but added that the Palestinian leadership has a clear position regarding any meeting with Netanyahu.

“The Palestinian position is that any meeting or political move should be paralleled by a settlement freeze in the occupied territories and the release of the fourth batch of prisoners, which Netanyahu refused to release during the last round of negotiations,” Abu Yousef said.

The Palestinian leadership has recently put its full support behind the French initiative to hold an international peace conference. It hopes that it will create new mechanism for the peace process including a timeline to end the conflict and Israel’s military rule over the Palestinian territories.

For his part, Vasquez, the State Department official, told the Post, “As we’ve said before, we are generally keeping an open mind about the French efforts.

We remain in close touch with the French as well as other international partners to continue to discuss ideas about how to move things in a constructive direction and bring us closer to achieving peace.”

Jerusalem has strongly rejected the French initiative, saying it prefers “direct and bilateral negotiations.”
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