Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume direct negotiations with Israel in lieu of his unilateral statehood bid, set to be presented to the UN General Assembly on Friday.
Netanyahu said that he was interested in meeting with Abbas in New York: "I call on the chairman of the Palestinian Authority to launch direct negotiations in New York and continue them in Jerusalem and Ramallah," he said. "I am offering President Abbas the chance to launch peace negotiations instead of wasting time on futile unilateral steps."
More on the PA's statehood bid:
- Abbas says 'no' to Jewish state
- Global poll: 49% in favor of Palestinian state
- French FM: Mideast on verge of violent outbreak
Abbas, on his part, told Fox News that he was willing to meet with Netanyahu at the United Nations this week, adding that he had not given up on negotiations: "I will meet any Israeli official any time... But there is no use if there is nothing tangible."
"I felt there is no way for negotiations because the American administration, including President Obama, exhausted their efforts to bring Netanyahu to the negotiating table," Abbas told the news network. "They couldn't convince him to cease the settlement activities."
Abbas insisted that any future negotiations would have to include Israeli recognition of borders based on the 1967 lines.
- For full coverage of PA's statehood bid click here
"Such pre-conditions are making a meeting impossible," Prime Minister's Office Spokesman Mark Regev said in response. "We have repeatedly said we are ready to immediately start the peace process with face-to-face talks with the Palestinians without pre-conditions."
Earlier Monday Abbas met with Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. He reportedly told Ban that the Palestinian Authority intends to follow through with its plan to seek full UN recognition from the UN Security Council. The Palestinian president will submit the official appeal to that effect to Ban on Friday, after his address in the UN General Assembly. Ban is then expected to pass the request the Security Council for a vote.
The United States has voiced its adamant objection to the Palestinian's unilateral move and is attempting to garner a blocking majority in the UNSC. Should it fail, Washington said it would use its veto power within the Council to quash the motion.
Meanwhile, the Mideast Quartet – the US, Russia, the EU and the UN – is still pursuing an alternative that would convince the Palestinians to drop their UN statehood bid.
Earlier Monday, Abbas said that while Ramallah is interested in resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, it must be based on 1967 lines and will mandate Israel to freeze all settlement construction.
The Palestinian president stressed that the PA's UN bid for statehood does not contradict the peace talks.
Elior Levy contributed to this report
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