Abbas ‘willing to meet Netanyahu’ 21Sep11 September 21, 2011

Ma’an News Agency  -  20 September 2011
NEW YORK (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas is willing to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he told Fox News in an interview on Monday.“I will meet any Israeli official any time,” the president said. “But there is no use if there is nothing tangible.”

The Israeli news site Ynet reported Tuesday that Netanyahu was also willing to meet Abbas.

Abbas and Netanyahu will both address the General Assembly on Friday, after which Abbas says he will request full membership of the United Nations from the Security Council.

The bid is strongly opposed by Israel and the US, who insist that an independent Palestinian state can only be achieved through negotiations.

Abbas told Fox News he decided to go to the Security Council when he felt there was “no way” for negotiations.

“The American administration, including [US] President [Barack] Obama, exhausted their efforts in order to bring Netanyahu to the negotiating table.

“They couldn’t convince him to cease settlement activities.”

The last round of US-backed direct talks collapsed within weeks in September 2010 when Netanyahu refused to extend a partial freeze on illegal settlement building on occupied Palestinian land, despite generous incentives offered by Washington including a reported $3 billion in military aid.

The Palestinians say they cannot negotiate with Israel while it builds Jewish-only housing on land which would form a Palestinian state in a two-state peace agreement.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev told Fox News that “pre-conditions” were making a meeting “impossible.”

Obama said in September 2010 that he wanted to welcome Palestine as the UN’s newest member in 2011.

In his interview with Fox News, Abbas addressed the US president: “You promised me a state by September 2011. I hope you will deliver.”

Israel has occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip since 1967, in violation of international law.

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