Palestinians claim Abbas willing to meet Netanyahu – with preconditions

As further proof that the Palestinians are not interested in serious negotiations with Israel in order to resolve the conflict between the two sides, they continue to demand that Israel release prisoners and commit to a building freeze before any talks can take place.

Palestinian media sources reported over the weekend that Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas has expressed willingness to meet for direct talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a move the Palestinian leader has so far repeatedly opposed.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that the Palestinian ambassador to Russia said Saturday that the Palestinian leadership would be open to joining a peace summit hosted by the Russians in Moscow.

Ambassador Abd al-Hafith Nufal told Ma’an that the Palestinian leadership would be willing, “in principle,” to take part in the meeting “sought-after by Russia” to resume negotiations.

Nufal said that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov had met with Abbas in Jordan two weeks ago and expressed Russia’s desire to “contribute” to direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.

He added that Bogdanov is set to visit Israel on Monday, and will meet with Netanyahu to discuss the option of holding a meeting in Moscow.

“We want peace and are willing to fulfill Russia’s request to take part in the meeting, the ball is now in Israel’s court to resume negotiations,” Nufal told Ma’an.

Nufal added that the talks in Russia will be in addition to French initiative, and will “build the basis for a new stage [in negotiations] and will complement international initiatives to resume peace talks.”

The Russians have denied they are willing to host such talks.

The Palestinian Al-Ayyam daily reported that Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that the PA  is not opposed, “in principle,” to a meeting between the two leaders.

“It has been confirmed to a number of countries in recent days that there is no obstacle in principle to convening a meeting between President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Maliki told the Ramallah- based publication.

However, al-Maliki set preconditions to any such meeting.

“First, there must be solid preparation for such a meeting to determine its goals and guarantee its outcomes. The Israeli side must give a sense that there is something new and commit to settlement freeze and implement signed agreements,” he demanded.

Maliki also stressed that any such meeting wound not serve to bypass the French initiative.

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The Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu is willing to meet with Abbas in Moscow, but without preconditions.

Al-Maliki himself has stated in the past that the PA will never again engage in direct talks with Israel.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News