Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both said on Tuesday they were willing to meet to relaunch peace efforts, but no date was set and they traded blame for stalled talks. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been seeking to arrange a meeting between the two in Moscow in a bid to restart peace efforts that have been at a standstill for more than two years.
But disagreements over the conditions for such talks have derailed previous efforts, and Netanyahu again called for a meeting without preconditions. Abbas did not speak of what his conditions would be for such a meeting if any, but Palestinian leaders have previously spoken of three issues.
They include a halt to Israeli settlement building, the release of prisoners and a deadline for the end of the occupation of the West Bank.
The Palestinian president, speaking during a visit to Warsaw, said a meeting had been proposed for Friday but an aide to Netanyahu suggested delaying this, leading to it being called off.
“Netanyahu’s representative proposed to delay this meeting to a later date. So the meeting will not happen,” Abbas said at a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
“But I am ready and I declare again that I will go to any meeting.” Netanyahu, speaking during a visit to The Hague, said he was “ready to meet Abu Mazen (Abbas) at any time directly and without preconditions”.
“The real question is whether Abu Mazen is willing to meet us without preconditions and we are hearing conflicting reports on that,” he said. Putin’s Middle East envoy has held talks with both Netanyahu and Palestinian leaders in recent days.
After talks in Palestinian political capital Ramallah on Tuesday, he said efforts would continue to work towards a future meeting. “We are very thankful that Abu Mazen accepted in principle the Russian initiative proposed by President Putin,” Mikhail Bogdanov said.
“We’ll continue our efforts, discussions and contacts with the two parties about the form, contents and dates of the meeting.” Peace efforts have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014. The last substantial public meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu is thought to have been in 2010, although there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.