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Abbas Phones Deri: We Want Peace

PA chairman phones Shas chairman, tells him he wants to advance peace process.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/3/2013, 3:15 AM

MK Aryeh Deri
MK Aryeh Deri
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday telephoned Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri and expressed his condolences over the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Abbas was one of many public officials who expressed their condolences over Rabbi Yosef’s death back in October, saying at the time, “I met with members of the Rabbi's family in Ramallah. I would like to express my condolences and the condolences of the Palestinian people on the occasion of his passing.”

During Monday’s conversation, Abbas also reportedly told Deri that he would like to advance the peace process with Israel. Peace talks restarted in July but little progress has been made thus far.

Deri told Abbas that "Israel is a people who want peace, but the PA has an obligation to prove its seriousness for true peace." Abbas invited Deri to meet him in Ramallah, and the two agreed to continue to speak with one another.

The conversation with Deri comes a day after Abbas met in Ramallah with opposition head MK Yitzchak Herzog (Labor), and reiterated his commitment to the full period of nine months of talks agreed upon with Washington.

Following the meeting, Herzog told reporters he would push the Israeli government to take "brave" steps in U.S.-brokered peace negotiations.

"The current negotiations brokered by the United States provide a historic opportunity for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, particularly because president Abbas has a real desire to achieve peace," Herzog said.

"I will carry that message to the prime minister... (and) we will try to put pressure on the Israeli government to take brave positions to achieve peace and security for our children," he added.

Meanwhile, reports NRG/Maariv, Deri and Herzog have agreed to cooperate from the opposition in order to bring down Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government. The decision was made following a meeting Monday between the two men.

Deri's office said after the meeting that "the two agreed to increase their cooperation and work together from the opposition to bring down the government."

A media adviser to Herzog said following the meeting that the Labor chairman “has often spoken of his intention to lead a large opposition bloc to replace the government and offer an alternative, because the right-wing government is bad and does not provide answers to the distress of the citizens.”

He added that "it is obvious that the agenda of the hareidi-religious parties is different from that of the Arab parties, for example, but one can unite around common themes such as the fight against poverty or protecting the rights of workers.”