Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet with a Palestinian delegation next week, where he intends to propose direct talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians have rarely agreed to direct talks with Israel since Netanyahu took office in 2009. The plan follows the latest aborted effort to jumpstart peace negotiations in discussions hosted by Jordan in January.
According to a press release from Netanyahu’s media advisor, Israel’s representative in talks with the Palestinians, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, is set to deliver the same message regarding direct talks in an upcoming meeting with Abbas. The press release said Molcho is also expected to give Abbas a letter “about Israel’s position regarding a future agreement with the Palestinians.”
The Israeli statement noted they welcomed the continued call from the Mideast Quartet—consisting of the US, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia—for direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians “without preconditions.”
The Palestinians have repeatedly demanded that Israel halt settlement activity and have called for Israel to accept the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations. Israel did enact a 10-month partial settlement freeze that concluded in 2010. The Palestinians eventually commenced direct talks with Israel towards the end of the freeze, but suspended the talks after the moratorium ended.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 11, 2012)