World Jewish News
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (R) on Sunday held talks with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Ramallah, and repeated his insistence that negotiations could not resume without a settlement freeze.
Abbas to send Netanyahu letter on peace talks
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will send a letter to Israel's premier on the state of stalled peace talks on April 17, a Palestinian official told AFP on Sunday.
The letter is expected to lay out Palestinian conditions for returning to direct negotiations that have been on hold since late September 2010.
But Abbas renewed his threat on Sunday to unilaterally seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state if Israel did not accept his conditions for resuming the peace process. He made the threat during a meeting in his office in Ramallah with an Israeli delegation headed by former minister and member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament Yossi Beilin from the extreme left Meretz party.
Abbas’s letter would be handed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a delegation of senior Palestinians.
"It was agreed that a Palestinian delegation, including Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation Yasser Abed Rabbo and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, will meet with Netanyahu on the 17th of this month," the official said.
Israeli officials had no comment on the reported meeting date but the Israeli government position on the diplomatic process has been consistent for months: an immediate start to negotiations without pre-conditions.
Amos Gilad, head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic- Security bureau, reiterated the government’s position that a peace agreement can only come through negotiations, not unilateral actions.
In an Israel Radio interview Sunday he said that Israel’s agreements with Egypt and Jordan, as well as its interim accords with the Palestinians, were only reached through negotiations.
“There is no alternative to negotiation, there is no other way,” he said, adding that a Palestinian return to the UN would not produce any result.
Gilad also said there was no way of implementing an agreement without the PA regaining control of Gaza. Hamas controls the Strip.
“Our position is to enter negotiations, because that is the only way to reach peace, but it does not mean we will give up security demands that are critical for us,” he said.
A few days after Fayyad delivers the Palestinian letter to Israel, Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho is expected to bring Israel’s response to the Palestinians.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Israel’s letter is expected to include the following points: Israel is prepared for peace talks with the Palestinians where all the core issues will be on the agenda; Israel places no pre- conditions whatsoever on entering the talks; an agreement reached must contain Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and include effective security arrangements.