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Palestinian Prime Minister Rejects Netanyahu’s Offer of Direct Peace Talks

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer of bilateral talks on Tuesday.

“Time is short. Netanyahu is trying to buy time, but this time he will not escape the international community,” Hamdallah said in a meeting with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was visiting Israel and the PA to promote the international peace conference that his country is hosting in June.

Netanyahu told Valls on Monday that Israel prefers a bilateral meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that he would be willing to meet him “in Paris or wherever” and that “every difficult issue will be on the table.”

“Peace is not achieved in international UN-style conferences, nor through international diktats that come of meetings of countries around the world sitting to decide our fate,” Netanyahu told Valls. “Peace is achieved through direct negotiations where the Palestinian Authority would face a historic choice: recognize a Jewish state side by side with a demilitarized Palestinian state, or try to eliminate it.”

“The Palestinian leadership doesn’t see the French initiative as an inducement for compromise, but rather as a way to avoid it,” Netanyahu added. “In fact, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Hamdallah, let slip the other day his hope for an imposed timetable, rather than a negotiated peace.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly called for face-to-face meetings with Abbas to discuss peace, but the two leaders have not personally discussed the issue since 2010. The Palestinian Authority has instead sought to withdraw from the Oslo process and pursue a unilateral bid for statehood through recognition at the United Nations and other international bodies, rather than through bilateral negotiations with Israel.

Abbas aide Al-Tayeb Abd al-Rahim, said in a Sunday speech on Abbas’ behalf to Palestinian security forces that the Palestinians “are a people who love death more than life when it fights for Palestine….Our morale will not be influenced or shaken by anything. We will not grow soft or deviate towards personal interests for the sake of dubious goals such as establishing a state or an emirate in Gaza, or establishing a state with temporary borders in the West Bank.”

[Photo: Issam RImawi / Flash 90 ]