Israel says ready for talks with PA

Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:5PM GMT

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is ready to hold talks with Palestinians immediately anywhere, in al-Quds (Jerusalem) or Ramallah.

“I’m prepared to negotiate with President (Mahmud) Abbas directly for peace between our two peoples right now. We can do it here in my home in Jerusalem, we can do it in Ramallah (in the West Bank), we can do it anywhere,” AFP quoted him as saying on Wednesday.

“Everything is on the table,” he said. “But we need to get to the table.”

Netanyahu made the remarks in a televised interview with Al JazeeraTV Network, blaming the Palestinian leadership for the stalemate in direct talks.

Palestinian and Israeli officials returned to the negotiating table in Washington in September 2010, but the talks broke down after Israel renewed settlement construction in the West Bank.

Some analysts believe that the resumption of settlement construction in the West Bank was a pre-planned scheme by some lobbies in Israel in order to hinder the talks.

The work on settlements in the occupied East al-Quds has drawn international criticism. Israel, however, remains defiant in the face of calls to halt its illegal settlement activities.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) insists that Israel must stop all settlement activities in the West Bank and illegally annexed East al-Quds before negotiations can resume.

The PA seeks recognition as an independent state at a UN General Assembly meeting in September.

The US Senate, however, unanimously passed a resolution warning the PA against such a move.

The resolution has threatened a cut in US aid to Palestine and calls on US President Barack Obama to veto such a measure at the UN.

Palestinian officials have rejected the threats, saying they “can’t sacrifice their freedom in return for financial aid.”

AO/AKM

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