PM's office denies Abbas offered direct talks

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman flatly denies allegations the PM turned down Mahmoud Abbas offer to talk.


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas offered to begin secret, direct talks with Netanyahu three times.

Gershon Baskin, a far-left activist who has acted as an unofficial conduit between the Netanyahu government and Palestinian leadership, told JTA Monday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas offered three times to begin secret, direct negotiations with Netanyahu. Each time, Baskin said, Netanyahu has refused. Baskin said he personally delivered the requests over the past three years.

“Netanyahu is paying lip service to the public and the world, because Abbas has offered Netanyahu on three opportunities a request to enter into secret, direct negotiations,” Baskin told JTA. On Tuesday, Baskin told JTA, “There are at least three times I know of, because I sent the messages for Abbas.”

In a statement to JTA Tuesday, Netanyahu spokesman David Keyes flatly denied Baskin’s claim.

“There is no truth whatsoever to the claim that President Abbas offered to begin secret direct talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Keyes said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to call on President Abbas to meet anytime, anywhere, without pre-conditions. Unfortunately, President Abbas has refused.”

The claims come ahead of a French "peace conference", which aims to impose a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel will not be represented at the conference, which the PA has enthusiastically welcomed.

Earlier Tuesday it was announced that the conference had been postponed by a few months to enable US Secretary of State John Kerry to attend - though the State Department has remained vague on whether Kerry plans to attend at all.

Arutz Sheva Staff contributed to this report.