Jerusalem, May 13 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter to Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday. While the contents of the note were not made public it is understood Netanyahu urged Abbas to return to face-to-face peace talks.
The message was in response to one sent by Abbas to Netanyahu a month ago in which the Palestinian president laid out a series of preconditions including the release of all Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israeli jails. Of the 4,500 inmates in question, more than half were involved in terror attacks against Israeli civilians, the Israel Prison Service told The Israel Project last week.
Abbas is also calling for the immediate cessation of all Israeli construction in the West Bank. Israel says the matter should be discussed in direct negotiations. Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month freeze two years ago but the Palestinians only entered talks a month before the end of the moratorium.
Netanyahu’s position is very clear: Israel favors a two-state solution including territorial compromise, with Israel’s security guaranteed. This is in line with the recommendation of the United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States – agreement via direct parley.
The Israeli desire for a peace deal received a boost last week when Kadima, formerly the main opposition party, joined Netanyahu’s coalition. One of the key policies agreed by the new unity government was the serious advancement of the peace process.