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Netanyahu to ask Abbas to return to negotiations without preconditions

February 17, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Media sources in Israel have revealed that the country’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, intends to send a message to the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, inviting him to resume negotiations as soon as possible without preconditions. According to Haaretz newspaper, an Israeli official said, “The message, which includes an invitation to the Palestinian side to return to negotiations, will serve as a response to a similar letter that Abbas intends to send to Netanyahu.”

The Palestinian message is expected to be sent to Netanyahu over the next few days and will call on Netanyahu to explain his position on Israel’s settlements, borders and an independent Palestinian state. Netanyahu’s “response” is expected to include a series of political messages to show the seriousness and readiness of his government to resume the exploratory meetings which commenced in Amman in January under the auspices of the Quartet and King Abdullah II.

“Netanyahu will confirm his readiness to discuss all of the key issues,” said the unnamed Israeli official, “including borders, security, refugees, water, settlements and Jerusalem.” He noted that the Israeli Prime Minister does not expect the Palestinians to make conditions for the resumption of the meetings, although “Netanyahu will ask the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and agree on appropriate security arrangements”. The final text of Netanyahu’s message will be made after Abbas’ message arrives.

Speaking at a press conference to commemorate the third anniversary of the formation of his coalition government, Netanyahu claimed that it is the Palestinians who refuse to return to the negotiating table, and that his government is seeking to reach a settlement with them.