Jerusalem, April 4 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he is willing to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, responding to a television statement the latter made last week.
“A few days ago, on Israeli television, I heard President Abbas say that if I invite him to meet, he’ll come,” Netanyahu told the Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek in a meeting in Jerusalem.
“I’m inviting him again. I’ve cleared my schedule this week,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement released by his office. “Any day he can come, I’ll be here,” he said.
Netanyahu stressed that the first item on the agenda would be the ending of the “Palestinian campaign of incitement to murder Israelis.”
He was referring to a six-month-long Palestinian unrest, including frequent stabbing, shooting, and car-ramming attacks, which claimed the lives of 28 Israelis.
At the same time, at least 190 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, mostly amidst attacks and attempted attacks, according to Israel.
Netanyahu’s remarks followed an interview by the Palestinian leader in the Israeli Channel 2 TV, in which he said he was willing to meet Netanyahu to forge a peace deal.
“I still extend a hand to Mr. Netanyahu because I believe in peace. I believe that the people of Israel want peace and that the Palestinian people want peace,” Abbas said.
Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast War and has been holding it ever since, in an act condemned by the international community.
Several rounds of peace talks to end the occupation have failed, with the last one reaching an impasse in April 2014 over the expansion of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas.