Fayyad no-show as Palestinians hand letter to Israel PM (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) By Hazel Ward 04/17/12)
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A Palestinian delegation on Tuesday personally delivered a letter
from president Mahmud Abbas to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu in which he details his grievances over the failure of the
The letter was handed over at a brief meeting between Netanyahu and
his chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho with Palestinian negotiator Saeb
Erakat and intelligence chief Majed Faraj.
The Palestinian delegation described the meeting as "serious" and
both sides confirmed Netanyahu would respond with his own letter to
Abbas "within two weeks."
"This evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with
representatives of the Palestinian side who handed him a letter from
president Abbas," the Israeli leader´s office said in a statement.
"Israel and the Palestinian Authority are committed to reaching
peace," it said after the talks, which lasted just under an hour.
"Within two weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will send a
letter to president Abbas," it said, concluding: "The two sides hope
that this exchange of letters will help find the way to advance
Speaking to AFP shortly afterwards, Erakat expressed satisfaction
over the brief encounter.
"It was a serious meeting," he said. "Netanyahu will study the letter
seriously and answer it within two weeks."
The delegation was initially supposed to be a top-level affair led by
prime minister Salam Fayyad, but ended up a more low key affair after
officials confirmed at the last minute that the premier would not be
taking part -- without saying why.
Earlier this month, senior officials on both sides said the
delegation would be led by Fayyad in what would have been the first
high-level meeting between the two sides in more than 18 months.
But Fayyad´s office never confirmed his participation, and by the
late afternoon, speculation was rife that he would not attend.
Fayyad´s office flatly refused to comment on the incident, although a
source close to the premier admitted the Western-backed leader
had "reservations" about meeting the Israeli leader, without
Israeli officials had no immediate comment on the content of the
Earlier on Tuesday, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said the main
aim of the document was to challenge the Israeli leader over the
collapse of the peace process, saying its objective was to "put Mr
Netanyahu on the spot."
According to a copy of the missive which was seen by AFP earlier this
week, Abbas accuses Israel of stripping the Palestinian Authority of
all of its authority and warns over the slide towards a bi-national
"As a result of actions taken by successive Israeli governments, the
Palestinian National Authority no longer has any authority, and no
meaningful jurisdiction in the political, economic, territorial and
security spheres," he writes.
"In other words, the PA lost its raison d´etre which, if it
continues, will make it unable to honour its commitments," he says in
reference to the multiple agreements signed with Israel since the
1993 Oslo Accords, which brought about the creation of the
Palestinian Authority a year later.
He asks Israel to outline "as soon as possible" its positions on four
key issues: the principle of a two-state solution based on the pre-
1967 lines, halting settlement activity, releasing all Palestinian
prisoners, and revoking all decisions which undermine bilateral
agreements since 2000.
"We stand ready to immediately resume negotiations the minute we
receive your positive response on these points," he writes.
Israel says it wants negotiations without preconditions, but the
Palestinians have sought a settlement freeze and clear parameters for
talks before returning to the table.
In January, negotiators from both sides held five exploratory
meetings in a bid to find a way to resume dialogue, but they ended
inconclusively, after which Abbas announced he was planning on
sending a letter to Netanyahu. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France
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