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Netanyahu to Abbas: Let's Begin Negotiations

"I hope that we speak not just on holidays," Netanyahu tells PA Chairman as he offers greetings for Ramadan.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/15/2013, 3:43 AM

Netanyahu and Abbas
Netanyahu and Abbas
Israel News photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Sunday evening with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and offered his greetings on the occasion of the start of Ramadan.

“I called to greet you on the occasion of Ramadan. I hope that we will have an opportunity to speak to each other and not just on holidays, and that we begin negotiations,” Netanyahu told Abbas.

“This is important. I hope that American Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts have results," he added.

Kerry has been in the region five times since taking office, attempting to get Israel and the PA to resume peace talks that have been stalled for nearly three years.

He insisted before he left Israel several weeks ago that he had held "very positive" discussions with both sides since starting and that with "a little more work" the start of final status talks "could be within reach".

"I am pleased to tell you that we have made real progress on this trip and I believe that with a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach," Kerry told reporters before leaving Israel on June 30.

"We started out with very wide gaps and we have narrowed those considerably," he said, describing them as "very narrow".

Abbas has insisted that Israel recognize the 1949 Armistice Line as a designated border for any future PA state. Israel refuses, as the pre-1967 borders are indefensible and withdrawing back to these borders would guarantee its destruction.

The demand that Israel recognize these indefensible borders as a designated border for a Palestinian state is just one in a long line of preconditions that Abbas has imposed on negotiations. He has also demanded that Israel release terrorists jailed before the 1993 Oslo Accords and that it freeze all Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has called for talks without preconditions and instead is considering "good will gestures" such as the release of PA Arab prisoners or a partial freeze on Jewish building.

Kerry was supposed to be returning to Israel for a sixth trip, but has postponed the visit until further notice due to his wife’s illness.

Teresa Heinz Kerry, 74, was unexpectedly rushed by ambulance to Nantucket Cottage Hospital last Sunday after experiencing seizure-like symptoms.

A spokesperson for the hospital said she arrived in critical condition, where she was stabilized before being flown with her husband to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she is currently listed in fair condition.

According to a news release, doctors have ruled out the possibility of heart attack, stroke and brain tumor, in addition to other triggers and conditions that could have caused the seizure-like symptoms that led to her hospitalization.