Netanyahu meets top Palestinian officials in J´lem (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Attila Somfalvi, AP Latest Update: 04.18.12, 00:46)
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Delegation headed by Erekat hands Bibi letter from Abbas outlining
terms for restarting peace talks. Fayyad pulls out of meeting at last
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with representatives of the
Palestinian Authority at his Jerusalem office Tuesday evening. Senior
Fatah official Saeb Erekat and the head of the Palestinian General
Intelligence Service, Majed Faraj, were among the delegates from the
"Israel and the Palestinian Authority are committed to peace," a
statement released after the meeting read.
The Palestinian officials handed Netanyahu a letter from Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas outlining the Palestinians´ conditions for
jumpstarting the peace process. The prime minister is expected reply
within two weeks.
The meeting lasted a little over an hour.
Israeli officials said the missive delivered by the Palestinians does
not include any new or surprising details. They said the letter
Netanyahu´s aide Yitzhak Molcho is expected to deliver to the
Palestinians in about two weeks will outline Israel´s position vis-ŗ-
vis the peace process.
"It´s unlikely that the documents being exchanged between the sides
will change the situation on the political front," a source who is
familiar with the letters´ content said.
In the letter to Netanyahu, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority has
been left powerless.
Israeli officials believe the Palestinians will resurrect their
statehood bid at the United Nations. Sources close to the Palestinian
leadership in Ramallah said Abbas is leaning in this direction but
prefers to wait until after presidential elections are held in the US
so as not to further strain relations with President Barack Obama.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad pulled out of the meeting
with the Israeli leader, torpedoing what was set to be the highest-
level talks between the sides in nearly two years.
The Palestinians portrayed the meeting as a last-ditch effort to
salvage peace talks before the US election season. But shortly before
the meeting was to start, Palestinian negotiator Erekat said that
only he and a Palestinian security official, Majed Faraj, would
"We are on our way," he said, giving no explanation for Fayyad´s
Fayyad´s reason for pulling out of the meeting remains unclear, but
the Palestinian Ma´an news agency reported that he did not want to
meet his Israeli counterpart on the same day that more than 1,000
Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike to protest their
incarceration conditions in Israel.
Substantive negotiations collapsed more than three years ago, in
large part over Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and east
Jerusalem. The Palestinians say there can be no negotiations as long
as Israel continues to build in occupied territories they claim for
their future state. Israel says talks should resume without
The letter says Israel must freeze all settlement construction and
accept its pre-1967 war boundaries as the basis for the borders of a
future Palestine, with mutually agreed upon modifications, according
to drafts of the document obtained by The Associated Press. Israel
captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza -- the territories
claimed by the Palestinians -- in the 1967 Mideast war.
Abbas has said in recent days the letter also accuses Israel of
undermining the Palestinian Authority, his autonomy government that
rules in parts of the West Bank.
Speaking to reporters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Abbas said he was
hopeful for progress.
"We will tell (Netanyahu) that he should commit to stop settlements
and to recognize the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and
then we will return to the negotiating table," he said. "He has
intensified the settlements and the solution was to send him the
letter in which we stress the status quo cannot continue, and we
can´t accept it forever."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Abbas is not
interested in reaching a peace agreement with Israel and accused the
Palestinians of blaming Israel for their woes instead of working to
solve their internal problems.
Speaking during an official visit to Cyprus, Lieberman said all
issues should be addressed during direct talks between the sides
without pre-conditions. (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 04/18/12)
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