Netanyahu to Abbas: Israeli unity cabinet is a new opportunity for Mideast peace (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 05/14/12)
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The national unity government has created a new opportunity to move
the peace process ahead, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote to
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter he sent
Abbas on Saturday night.
Netanyahu added that he wants to restart negotiations as soon as
possible. Ever since taking office, Netanyahu has told U.S. President
Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that he could not
advance the peace process because of the composition of his coalition.
Clinton, who spoke with Netanyahu last week told him that with Kadima
now part of the coalition, she was waiting to see how he would move
the diplomatic process forward.
Netanyahu´s letter to Abbas was delivered to PA headquarters in
Ramallah by his special envoy Isaac Molho, who met with Abbas for 90
Following the meeting the two issued a joint statement saying that
Israel and the Palestinian Authority are obligated to achieve peace,
and that the parties hope the exchange of letters between Netanyahu
and Abbas will contribute to this end. Molho´s meeting with Abbas was
in fact a reciprocal visit; three weeks ago PA negotiations chief
Saeb Erekat and the head of the Palestinian intelligence Majed Faraj
met with Netanyahu and delivered a letter from Abbas. In that letter,
Abbas accused Netanyahu of weakening the PA.
A source who saw the letter that Netanyahu sent to Abbas said it
included an official pledge by Netanyahu, for the first time in an
official state document, to establish a demilitarized Palestinian
state in keeping with the principle of a two-state solution.
Netanyahu declared his support for such a solution in a speech at Bar-
Ilan University in 2009, as well as when he addressed the U.S.
Congress in May 2011. However, he has never brought the matter to a
cabinet vote nor had he set it down in an official document, until
Abbas met with the Palestine Liberation Organization executive
committee and the Fatah central committee on Sunday, with regard to
Netanyahu´s letter. After the meeting the PLO executive committee
released a statement that said Netanyahu´s letter contained no clear
answers to essential issues: first and foremost a halt to
construction in the settlements and East Jerusalem, recognition of
the 1967 borders and the release of prisoners.
A member of the Fatah central committee, Mohammed Shtayeh, who was
present at Sunday´s meetings, said Netanyahu´s letter contained no
new proposals or ideas.
Despite Palestinian disappointment with the letter, they did not
reject it outright.
The Palestinian leadership will decide its next moves after
consulting with the Arab countries and the PA´s friends worldwide,
Abbas said on Sunday at the central committee meeting.
The United States is pressing Abbas to use the letters as a means of
moving toward direct talks with Israel. The Americans reportedly
would like to see a resumption of the talks between Molho and Erekat,
which took place in January in Amman, under the patronage of King
Abdullah of Jordan. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/14/12)
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