PA officials deny report Abbas willing to meet Netanyahu in Moscow
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PA officials deny report Abbas willing to meet Netanyahu in Moscow

Palestinian sources say Israelis haven’t responded to Ramallah’s preconditions for face-to-face summit, no point in meeting just for photo-op

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem, September 15, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem, September 15, 2010. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

A report that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow was swiftly denied by senior Palestinian officials Monday.

Russia’s Interfax news agency earlier Monday reported that the Palestinian envoy to Moscow had conveyed Abbas’s willingness to sit with Netanyahu during a meeting with Russia’s Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov, in Amman earlier in the day.

Such talks would be the first public summit between the two leaders since 2010, and a sign of progress to jump-start moribund peace talks amid a flurry of international diplomatic initiatives, including an offer by Russian President Vladimir Putin to host face to face talks in Moscow.

But a senior Palestinian Authority source denied the Russian report to The Times of Israel, saying Ramallah has yet to receive a response from Israel to its preconditions — that Jerusalem commit to a settlement freeze and a prisoner release. Those preconditions, the source said, would have to be met before a direct meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu could take place.

The source emphasized the entire Palestinian leadership was united in its demand that Israel commit to the preconditions, and expressed “puzzlement” that the report of Abbas’s ostensible willingness to meet Netanyahu first appeared in Russian media, rather than a Palestinian outlet.

Another source from Abbas’s office also denied the Russian report, telling The Times of Israel that “we don’t want a meeting just for the sake of a meeting, but something to advance the peace process.”

Earlier on Monday, Bogdanov met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss the possibility of coordinating a meeting between him and Abbas.

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