Kadima Chairman MK Shaul Mofaz called Thursday on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to return to peace talks. Speaking at a conference at Bar-Ilan University, the Kadima leader called for the immediate renewal of peace talks. In remarks directed at Abbas, Mofaz said: “Enough letters, enough talk and enough preconditions. Let’s talk peace. Come now.”
Mofaz will be in Washington next week to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. According to a report in Ma’ariv, the Obama administration is looking for Mofaz to thaw relations with the Palestinians and get the two sides talking again. The report adds that Mofaz, for his part, is making great efforts to meet Abbas before his departure for Washington.
The Ma’ariv report is seemingly corroborated by Palestinians news sources, with the pro-Fatah paper Al-Ayyam suggesting that Abbas would like to meet Israeli officials, including Mofaz. An unnamed Palestinian source told Al-Ayyam that Mofaz and Abbas will likely meet in Amman, Jordan, next week to discuss ways of renewing peace negotiations. Moreover, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, told the official Voice of Palestine radio station Wednesday that an Israeli-Palestinian meeting may take place soon, although no exact time has been scheduled. Another PLO official, Yasser Abed Rabbo, told the radio station yesterday that the idea of a meeting is now being circulated.
The London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi indicated yesterday that the US is pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement. According to the daily, American envoy David Hill will arrive in Israel within days to discuss re-launching of talks. Nevertheless, despite behind the scenes efforts to restart negotiations, Palestinian leaders continue to publicly condition the resumption of talks on an Israeli halt to settlement construction, recognition of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines and a mass release of Palestinian prisoners. Netanyahu still insists, however, upon no pre-conditions for talks.