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Abbas Not Ruling Out Speaking in the Knesset

PA Chairman tells Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) that he is willing to meet Netanyahu "anytime."
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/23/2014, 2:15 AM

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is not ruling out the possibility that he will one day address the Knesset.

Abbas made the comments to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University, part of an interview that will be aired during the institute’s conference next week and of which parts were released Wednesday.

"The possibility that [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu will speak to the Palestinian parliament or that I will give a speech to the Knesset is not rejected out of hand," he said.

In November, Netanyahu called on Abbas to come to the Knesset in a speech he gave during a visit to Israel by French President Francois Hollande.

"Come to the Israeli Knesset and I'll come to Ramallah," Netanyahu said. "Get up on this platform and recognize the historical truth: the Jews have a nearly 4,000-year-old link to the land of Israel. The Jews are a people with a right to self-determination," he added.

Abbas later said that he was willing to come to the Knesset but would not say what Netanyahu expects to hear.

“You know, Netanyahu comes up with an offer and then immediately puts forward his own terms – that this and that should be said and so on. No, if those terms are put forward, I do not accept that,” he declared. “But if he wants me to come and say the things I want to say, then I am ready to do it – but only in order to say what I want to say and not what he wants to hear.”

In the excerpts of the interview released Wednesday, Abbas said he was “willing to meet Binyamin Netanyahu anytime.”

He reiterated the PA’s position in talks with Israel, saying the Arabs are demanding a state along the pre-1967 borders with its capital in eastern Jerusalem, controlling the borders and the so-called “right of return” which would flood Israel with millions of “Palestinian refugees” as outlined in the Arab Peace Initiative.

He added that he would agree to a transitional period of three months, during which  Israel would have to gradually withdraw from the Palestinian state.

The comments come as U.S.-brokered peace talks between the sides continue. Several days ago, Abbas said that despite efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry, the PA has so far gotten nothing out of the ongoing peace negotiations with Israel.

Abbas blamed “the Israeli side” for the lack of progress in the peace talks, slamming Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria as "invaders" with "no right to Palestinian land”.

Abbas also stressed that Palestinian Arabs living inside what is now Israel "were on the land 1,500 years before Israel was established."

The PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat declared on Tuesday that the PA will not agree to extending peace talks even a day beyond the nine-month framework. Talks began last July and are set to expire in April.

"We renewed the talks on terms defined in advance and in a clear manner, for a period of nine months," he said.