In rare call, Netanyahu offers Abbas condolences on brother’s death
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In rare call, Netanyahu offers Abbas condolences on brother’s death

Omar Abbas, who had been treated at TLV hospital, died of cancer on Thursday; Israeli officials stress no other matters discussed in courtesy call

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, September 15, 2010 (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, September 15, 2010 (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Friday to offer condolences on the death of his brother, an Israeli official told AFP.

Abbas’s brother Omar died in Qatar Thursday, with the funeral taking place on Friday. He had been suffering from cancer and had been undergoing treatment in Tel Aviv’s Assuta Medical Center.

The official, in the Prime Minister’s Office, said Netanyahu called Abbas on Friday but that the conversation was “only to offer condolences.” No other topics were discussed, he said.

Palestinian state media confirmed the call.

Relations between the two men are frosty, with Netanyahu accusing Abbas of libeling the Jewish people last month after he unfoundedly claimed some rabbis had called for Palestinian wells to be poisoned. The Israeli leadership has often accused the Palestinian leader of promoting incitement against Israel in Palestinian media, thereby encouraging violent attacks against Israelis.

Abbas and Netanyahu shook hands at a climate summit in Paris in November, but held no significant talks.

The last substantial public meeting between them is thought to date back to 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.

Israel has called for direct peace negotiations without preconditions, but the Palestinian leadership prefers a multilateral approach, saying Israel’s leadership has failed to abide by previous agreements.

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