Netanyahu to Abbas: Let’s Talk Now

Jerusalem, Sept. 20 - “I call on the chairman of the Palestinian Authority [Mahmoud Abbas] to open direct negotiations in New York, which would continue in Jerusalem and Ramallah,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday (Sept. 19).

“I propose to President Abbas to begin peace negotiations instead of wasting time on futile unilateral measures,” Netanyahu said in a media statement. He added that unilateral measures and declarations at the United Nations are not the way to advance peace between them.

The Palestinian Authority is seeking statehood recognition from the U.N. Its bid is slated to commence this week with the delivery of a formal request to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“The only way to a two-state solution, which is what we support and want to see happen, is through negotiations. No matter what happens this week…we are going to stay very much engaged and focused,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday (Sept. 19) when asked about the American stance on the Palestinian campaign.

Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, echoed this sentiment at a briefing for foreign journalists Tuesday (Sept. 20). He said Israel is interested in starting direct negotiations.

“Israel places no preconditions whatsoever on the resumption of peace talks,” said Regev. He explained that Israel does have conditions, however, that it would like to see realized during the negotiations. Regev explained that one of these goals would be Abbas’ recognition of Israel as a legitimate, Jewish state within its borders.

The Quartet on the Middle East – comprised of Russia, the European Union, U.N. and the U.S. – has also been in active in trying to convince the Palestinian leadership that peace talks are the key to achieving a Palestinian state.

“I think what we will be looking for over the next few days, is a way of putting together something that allows their claims and legitimate aspirations for statehood to be recognized whilst actually renewing the only thing that's going to produce a state, which is a negotiation directly between the two sides,” said Tony Blair, the Quartet’s Special Envoy, during an interview on ABC.

U.S. President Barack Obama is to meet with Netanyahu Wednesday (Sept. 21) before Obama delivers a speech to the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA). Netanyahu and Abbas are schedule to deliver speeches to the UNGA on Friday. Abbas will likely roll out the Palestinian diplomatic plan and Netanyahu will speak about Israel’s commitment to peace.

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