Netanyahu counters Abbas claims over Moscow meeting delay


Israel’s Prime Minister yesterday reiterated that he is prepared to meet his Palestinian counterpart any time, without preconditions, after reports claimed he had delayed a possible meeting in Moscow.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his comments during a press conference alongside Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague.

He said: “I’m ready to meet with Abu Mazen [Abbas] at any time, without preconditions, for direct talks.”

He added: “It’s something I’ve said hundreds of times and I’m saying it again here. I’m not picky about the location.”

Netanyahu explained that “the main question is whether Abu Mazen’s [Abbas] willing to meet without preconditions” and that they “hear conflicting versions about it”.

Earlier yesterday, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Netanyahu had delayed a potential meeting between the two leaders in Moscow next week.

Speaking during a visit to Poland, he said: “President Putin has proposed a meeting on September 9 in Moscow. I agreed to this and I was to go to Moscow directly from here.”

Abbas added: “Unfortunately yesterday in Jerusalem president Putin’s representative and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s representative held a meeting and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s representative proposed to postpone the meeting for later, so there will be no meeting [on Sept. 9].”

Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister for Middle East affairs met Netanyahu on Monday. After their meeting, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying that Israel’s prime minister is “always willing to meet Abbas without preconditions”.

It is widely reported that Abbas has set conditions for a meeting to take place. It has been claimed that he wants Israel to freeze construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and release the final tranche of Palestinian prisoners scheduled to be freed before US-brokered peace talks collapsed in 2014.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu announced yesterday that Holland will help Israel to improve infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. He said: “We want to help the population of Gaza and the first step is to improve the supply of energy and water… including laying a gas pipeline.”