Netanyahu mulling over Putin’s peace talks offer

Jerusalem, Sep 5 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow, his office said in a statement on Monday.

The statement came following Netanyahu’s meeting in Jerusalem with Mikhail Bogdanov, Putin’s Special Envoy for the Middle East, during which they discussed the Russian president’s offer.

“The prime minister presented Israel’s position that he is always ready to meet with President Abbas directly and without preconditions,” the statement read, adding that Netanyahu is reviewing the Russian proposal.

Abbas’ office has not immediately commented on the move.

The move came amidst tightened relations between Netanyahu and Putin over Russia’s increased involvement in the Middle East. Netanyahu visited Putin three times over the last year, and the two held several phone talks.

Last week, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said that Putin is willing to host Israeli and Palestinian leaders for direct peace talks, according to the Egyptian state-run Ahram newspaper.

“President Putin told me he is ready to host the Palestinian president and the Israeli prime minister for direct peace talks in Moscow,” Sisi was quoted as saying.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks reached an impasse in April 2014.

A recent peace bid by France to hold a peace summit in Paris was accepted by the Palestinians but rejected by Israel.

Israel occupied the West Bank, along with other territories, in the 1967 Mideast War and has been holding it ever since.

–IANS

ahm/vm

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