Fayyad fails to show up to meeting with Netanyahu (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROF, KHALED ABU TOAMEH 04/18/12)
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A much-touted high-level meeting between Israelis and Palestinians
fizzled into a theatrical exchange of letters, when Palestinian
Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad failed to show up to meet with
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at his Jerusalem home on Tuesday
It would have been the first face-to-face meeting between the two
leaders since Netanyahu took office. Netanyahu last spoke in person
with a high-level Palestinian leader when he met with PA President
Mahmoud Abbas in September 2010.
The peace process has been largely frozen since then, with the
exception of some low-level talks that occurred in Jordan in January.
Israel was alerted to Fayyad’s planned absence prior to the meeting,
but decided to move forward anyway.
On Tuesday evening, Netanyahu hosted chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat
and the head of Palestinian intelligence Gen. Majad Faraj in his
Jerusalem home for an hour-and- a-half. Netanyahu’s personal envoy,
attorney Yitzhak Molcho, was also present.
They shook hands for the camera and the atmosphere among them was
cordial. The two men delivered a letter to Netanyahu from Abbas, some
contents of which had already been leaked to the media in the days
prior to its arrival.
Abbas’s letter demanded a halt to West Bank settlement construction
and Jewish building in east Jerusalem, and deplored Israel’s lack of
commitment to the peace process, officials said.
Netanyahu and his office are now examining the letter. A preliminary
reading, however, indicated that the information falls along known
lines and that little new information was presented.
Netanyahu promised the Palestinian delegation that he would send
envoys with a written response in two weeks.
At the end of the meeting, his office said, “Israel and the
Palestinian Authority are committed to achieving peace. Both sides
hope that this exchange of letters will help find a way to advance
Sources in Ramallah said that Fayyad decided to pull out of the
delegation because the meeting was taking place on the same day that
the Palestinians marked “Prisoner Day.”
The source said that Fayyad thought it would be inappropriate for him
to meet with Netanyahu on the same day that hundreds of Palestinian
prisoners went on a hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups had criticized the planned
meeting, saying it was an “insult” to the prisoners and their
PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo, who was supposed to join the
delegation, also decided to stay away in the last minute, apparently
for the same reason.
Earlier, an Israeli official said Netanyahu would reiterate his call
for talks to resume without any preconditions and for a meeting with
During a visit to Cyprus, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that
Abbas was not interested in reaching a peace agreement with Israel.
The Palestinians, he said, spend time blaming Israel rather than
working to solve their own internal problems. Reuters contributed to
this report. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/18/12)
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