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China Willing to Set Up Meeting Between Netanyahu and Abbas

China says it is willing to set up a meeting between PM Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during their visits to the country.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 5/3/2013, 10:46 PM

PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas / archive
PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas / archive
Israel news photo: Flash 90

China said on Friday it is willing to set up a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas if they wish to meet while visiting the country, the Xinhua news agency reported.

"If the leaders of Palestine and Israel have the will to meet in China, China is willing to offer necessary assistance," a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, told Xinhua.

Abbas will visit China from May 5 to 7 at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, while Netanyahu will pay an official visit to China as a guest of Premier Li Keqiang from May 6 to 10.

"China sincerely hopes Palestine and Israel can resume peace talks at an early date and score substantial progress," Hua said, adding that China will play a positive and constructive role in the matter.

The United States has been making an effort, led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, to get Israel and the PA back to the negotiating table.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is in charge of the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, met Thursday with Kerry to discuss reviving the Middle East peace process.

Earlier this week, Arab League leaders appeared to make a surprise concession in saying a Palestinian state should be based on the pre-1967 borders but with mutually-agreed land swaps with Israel.

Livni had hailed the comment as "very good news", as did Kerry, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the initiative does not matter because the conflict is rooted in the Arabs’ refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish State.

“The root of the conflict is not territorial. It started a long time before 1967," Netanyahu told officials in the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

"The Palestinians' lack of will to recognize the state of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict," he said.

Kerry recently once again warned that time was slipping away to reach a Middle East peace deal, and for the first time said there may only be a year or two left.

Abbas, meanwhile, has refused to come to the negotiating table and has continued to impose preconditions on talks.

He told Kerry during one of his recent trips to the region, that Israel should freeze construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem and release terrorist prisoners, especially those arrested before the 1993 Oslo Accords, before any resumption of peace talks.

Abbas also wants Netanyahu to present a map of the borders of a future Palestinian state before talks can resume, but a top political official in Israel has said this was out of the question.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)