Abbas: PA committed to locating abducted teens

Palestinian leader expresses hope missing Israelis are alive and well, voices readiness to resume peace talks

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared Thursday that his administration was prepared to take any action necessary to assist in locating three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped in the West Bank earlier this month. Abbas said he hoped the teens would be found alive and well, Israel Radio reported.

Speaking in Moscow following a meeting Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Abbas further said that he was optimistic over the possibility of resuming peace negotiations with Israel in the near future. The PA president further called on Israel to honor its commitment and complete the fourth and final stage of security prisoner releases, Palestinian media reported.

Abbas said that if the peace process were to be relaunched, the first three months of talks would be designated for the demarcation of borders. During those three months, he said, the PA would demand that Israel discontinue all settlement construction, according to Palestinian media.

On Wednesday, Putin urged Abbas to resume peace talks with the Israeli government, and to work toward overcoming any obstacles that may stand in the way of achieving a long-term agreement.

“Regrettably, the situation in the region is not improving, and I am very happy to have the opportunity to meet with you and talk about how the situation is evolving and outline steps toward normalization,” Putin told Abbas, according to Russia Today.

“Of course, we would very much like the peace process to resume. I know there are many difficulties here,” he added.

Also Wednesday, during a meeting with US President Barack Obama, President Shimon Peres said the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority can be renewed, and should be renewed soon. He reiterated comments made earlier this week in which he said that Abbas was a “real partner” for peace, but emphasized that Hamas, a partner in the technocratic unity government, was a terror organization.

“You can’t put fire and water in the same cup,” Peres told Obama.

The meeting came as Israel continued its two-week-old campaign to locate Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar, who were abducted while hitchhiking in the West Bank.

Israel has blamed Hamas for the kidnapping, though the Islamist group has denied involvement. Thousands of Israeli troops have searched hundreds of locations in the West Bank and arrested some 400 Palestinians, many from Hamas, including some who were freed in a 2011 prisoner exchange for Hamas-kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report

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