Netanyahu responds to Palestinian letter

RAMALLAH, West Bank Sat May 12, 2012 5:54pm EDT

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks during a joint news conference with Shaul Mofaz (not seen), head of the Kadima party which join Netanyahu's rightist coalition, at parliament in Jerusalem May 8, 2012. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks during a joint news conference with Shaul Mofaz (not seen), head of the Kadima party which join Netanyahu's rightist coalition, at parliament in Jerusalem May 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Israel and the Palestinian Authority issued a rare joint statement on Saturday, saying they were committed to peace after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dispatched an envoy to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The envoy carried a letter from Netanyahu replying to one he received last month from Abbas, in which the Palestinian leader stated his grievances over the collapse of peace talks in 2010 and laid out his parameters for a resumption of negotiations.

Details of Netanyahu's letter were not released, but Israeli officials said last week that they did not expect him to accept a key Palestinian demand to halt all settlement building in the occupied territories before reopening any talks.

Netanyahu's office issued a joint statement with the Palestinians after envoy Isaac Molcho met Abbas in Ramallah -- the Palestinian Authority's administrative capital.

"Israel and the Palestinian Authority are committed to achieving peace and the sides hope that the exchange of letters between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu will further this goal," the statement said.

Abbas's letter had demanded a halt to Israeli settlement construction on West Bank land captured in the 1967 Middle East war and accused Israel of showing a lack of commitment to the decades-old peace process, officials said.

Netanyahu has repeatedly called on Abbas to return to talks without any pre-conditions and promised that Israel was ready to make concessions, if the Palestinians would also compromise.

FLICKER OF HOPE

Few diplomats expect any breakthrough ahead of U.S. presidential elections in November, however the surprise formation of a national unity government in Israel last week has provided a slight flicker of hope.

Netanyahu stunned the political establishment on May 8 by hooking up with the main opposition group, the centrist Kadima party, to form one of the biggest coalitions in Israeli history.

The head of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, has long blamed Netanyahu for the failure of the peace talks and told reporters last week that entering new negotiations "was an iron condition for forming the unity government".

The Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee is set to convene on Sunday to review Netanyahu's letter.

"Tomorrow (Sunday) the PLO executive committee will meet to discuss what Netanyahu said in his letter and what steps we are going to take," the PLO's Wasel Abu Yusef told Reuters.

Before Abbas met Molcho, he received a call from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss regional issues, Abbas's office said. Clinton also spoke to Netanyahu mid-week to urge a resumption in negotiations.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks froze in 2010 after Netanyahu rejected Palestinian demands that he extend a partial settlement construction freeze he had introduced at Washington's behest.

About 500,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem -- territory the Palestinians want for an independent state.

The settlements are considered illegal by the International Court of Justice, the highest U.N. legal body for disputes. Israel cites historical and Biblical links to the land and says the status of settlements should only be decided in peace talks.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; editing by Crispian Balmer)

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Comments (3)
Fingerling wrote:
These people don’t know the meaning of the word peace. If their not fighting with themselves their fighting with the rest of the world.

May 12, 2012 6:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
timexlr8n wrote:
Love GOD with all your heart with all your mind with all your soul Decide, once and for all,to treat those who see you as the enemy , as if they are mistaken family not recognizing you ,who have been long lost returning to your place .So as one who does not want to lose family for all time . Choose the long road , know that these see you as cheating them .Also knowing you can not turn back . Offer this , two state one country, 67 line , 100,000 new pal’s as showing good faith brought in to new housing on Judah side , both states agree to treat well there brothers who live on there side. KNOW GOD IS THE FATHER OF BOTH OF YOU,save your father the pain of loss.YOU will be doing a good turn for your father ,for yourselves ,for your brothers and you will learn how to live with your neighbor in peace . This all without turning back one inch .Then you encourage big family ,and discourage abortion,pill,and any non productive …

May 13, 2012 2:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
karimayoubi wrote:
There is no peace process. How can there be a “peace process” when there is no war? All Israel has to do to have peace is to withdraw from land they are illegally occupying, and leave the Palestinians in peace. But for them this is not an option. They have stolen 98% of what used to be Palestine, and intend to make that 100%, one settlement at a time. That just leaves one problem: what to do with the Palestinian people. Easy: just lock them in a huge open prison called Gaza. Israel could have peace at any time, but they have scuppered every single set of talks by continuing to attack the Palestinians, even while Palestinian groups were on a ceasefire! They don’t want peace. They want land. And they want that land ethnically cleansed of Arabs.

May 13, 2012 8:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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