US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held “productive” talks on moving Israeli-Palestinian negotiations forward in Paris Friday. The two leaders held face-to-face talks — their first since 2011 — alongside the Friends of Syria meeting, some 10 days before Clinton’s scheduled visit to the region.
Clinton said she wanted to build upon the recent exchange of letters between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and move toward a possible meeting between the two leaders.
Abbas told Clinton he did not get an answer from Netanyahu on his demand for the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel since before the Oslo Accords. Abbas called the prisoners’ release a pre-condition to meeting with Netanyahu, who in turn, has said the issue could be resolved when they meet, Israel Radio reported.
Abbas said Israel had agreed to release those prisoners and that if Netanyahu followed through he would be willing to meet with him.
Since peace talks between the PA and Israel broke down in the fall of 2010, the PA has also demanded that Israel halt all settlement expansion as a condition for resuming negotiations. Netanyahu has offered to meet Abbas without preconditions.
Clinton told reporters there “must be a solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the US remains “absolutely committed to the goal of… two states with two peoples based on peace and security.” She said Israeli-Palestinian peace was of critical importance to the entire Middle East.