Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Tuesday responded to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ agreement to meet with him in Moscow, saying that the meeting would only be held if Abbas could commit to a meeting without “preconditions,” Israeli media reported.
The Palestinian ambassador to Moscow, Abd al-Hafith Nufal, told Ma’an that the Palestinian leadership would be willing, “in principle,” to take part in the meeting “sought-after by Russia” to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Nufal added that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov, had met with President Abbas in Amman almost two weeks ago, and expressed Russia’s desire to contribute to direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.
However, on Tuesday Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Netanyahu rejected any preconditions for talks between the two leaders, saying Palestinian spokespeople had already imposed conditions on the meeting, such as the release of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons.
“If Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) wants to meet without preconditions for direct talks, I’m ready at all times. I’ve been calling on him to do so for seven years already, and if he agrees to do so there’ll be a meeting,” Haaretz reported Netanyahu saying.
Nufal told Ma’an on Saturday that the talks with Russia will not be an alternative to the ongoing French peace initiative, but will rather “build the basis for a new stage [in negotiations] and will complement international initiatives to resume peace talks.”
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According to Nufal, Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, will visit the occupied Palestinian territory in November to meet with Palestinian officials and discuss bilateral relations.
Over the past several months, France has been leading peace efforts between Palestine and Israel with the aim of solving the decades-long conflict between the countries.
However, Netanyahu staunchly rejected the multilateral French initiative in April, saying the “best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is through direct, bilateral negotiations.”