Preconditions or bust
Despite reports that PM Netanyahu and PA Chairman Abbas have agreed in principle for a meeting in Moscow, significant gaps still remain, chief of which is the issue of Palestinian preconditions; Israeli official: 'In light of the fact that there are still preconditions, there is nothing for now.'
"There was also an agreement in principle before, but Abbas didn't remove the preconditions. Drop the preconditions and come," said a source. "In light of the fact that there are still preconditions, there is nothing for now."
Russian Deputy Ambassador to Israel Alexey Drobinin also confirmed that there is a meeting in principle between Jerusalem and Ramallah, however the date and topics of the meeting are not yet on the agenda. "The basic issue the parties will discuss is what needs to be done to get out of the current impasse in the diplomatic process," said Drobinin.
"We don't take it upon ourselves to decide the issues that they need to discuss," Drobinin clarified. "This is something that the parties themselves should discuss. The timing of the meeting also depends on the parties themselves. President Putin's proposal stands. Now the parties themselves need to decide when they're ready to come."
In an answer to the question of the agreement to meet in principle simply being an illusion that both parties have sold to Russia, Drobinin responded, "We have no illusions. It is certainly possible that in the end there will be no meeting."
At a press conference in the Netherlands, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the Palestinian claim that Abbas agreed to the meeting, while Netanyahu rejected it. "I am ready to meet with Abbas at any time without preconditions for direct talks. It's something I've said a hundred times and I'm repeating it here. I'm not picky about the place, it can be in the Netherlands or in Moscow, no problem. It can certainly be Moscow. I've said that to President Putin and I've said it to the Russian envoy Bogdanov.
"The main question is if Abbas is ready to meet without preconditions. We hear conflicting versions. Just yesterday, a Palestinian spokesman made it clear that they are willing to meet, but they have conditions such as the release of prisoners and they want to know in advance what the results of the talks will be. If Abbas wants to meet without preconditions for direct talks, I am ready anytime. I've been calling on him to do it for seven years, so if he agrees, there could be a meeting."