Netanyahu Clarifies: Ready to Meet with Abbas for Direct Talks without Preconditions

Prime Minister Netanyahu criticized the Palestinian Authority, specifically President Mahmoud Abbas, for only agreeing to meet on renewing talks only if Israel accepts preconditions.

Netanyahu addressed Abbas’s ongoing lack of sincerity in moving forward with talks during a press conference at the Hague on Tuesday afternoon following a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte as part of his two-day tour in Holland.

Prime Minister Netanyahu stated “I am prepared to meet with Abu Mazen [Abbas] at any time for direct talks without preconditions. I have said this hundreds of times and I am reiterating it now. I do not care about the place be it in Holland, Moscow or anywhere else… I have said this to President Putin,” adding “The main question is, of course, whether Abu Mazen is prepared to meet without preconditions? We hear contradictory reports about this. Just yesterday Palestinian spokespersons made it clear that they are ready to meet but they have conditions – releasing prisoners, they want to know if the talks will have results, etc.”

Netanyahu stated directly, “If Abu Mazen is ready to meet for direct talks without preconditions, I am ready at any time. I have been calling on him to do this for almost seven years already and if he agrees to do this – there will be a meeting,” reiterating Israel’s consistent and firm stance that a meeting with the Palestinian Authority must come without any preconditions.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin had offered over the weekend to facilitate a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas to be held in Moscow, the Palestinian Authority insisting on preconditions such as the release of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are terrorists, as well as a halt on settlement growth.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ahmad Majdalani of the PLO claimed that Abbas agreed to meet with Netanyahu in Moscow without preconditions, stating “President Abbas did not set any preconditions to meet Netanyahu in Moscow,” Abbas later stating that he did agree to the meeting and that he is “ready to meet tomorrow or any agreed upon date because this dialogue between us and the Israelis is very important to me regardless if it takes place in Moscow or another place,” contrary to his previous call for preconditions and many refusals to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, September 6, 2016, and reposted with permission.