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PA denies Abbas received invitation to meet with Netanyahu in Paris

Dec. 7, 2016 5:18 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 7, 2016 7:09 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Despite international media Wednesday claiming that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas had received an invitation to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in France, the spokesperson of the Palestinian presidency denied that any such invitation was sent to Palestinian leaders. 

International media reported that French President Francois Hollande had extended the invitation to both Netanyahu and Abbas to meet during the multilateral French peace conference expected to be held in Paris on Dec. 21. 

However, the spokesperson of the Palestinian presidency, Nabul Abu Rdeineh said in a statement that Palestine had not received the invitation, but confirmed the PA’s support of any French efforts that could positively affect the political situation in Israel-Palestine. 

The spokesperson also highlighted the fact that Abbas had accepted a previous invitation by Russian President Vladimir Putin in September to meet with Netanyahu. However, Netanyahu rejected the offer at the time. 

Meanwhile, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israel flatly rejected the invitation to meet with Abbas during the French peace initiative, with a senior Israeli official saying that "it's quite clear that this is an attempt to try and make us accept the framework of the French peace initiative," which the Netanyahu government has consistently refused. 

However, the official reiterated Netanyahu’s willingness to meet with Abbas as part of a bilateral initiative, and without preconditions. However, Abbas has demanded the release of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons in the past as a precondition for any peace talks to be held between the two leaders. 

Over the past several months, France has been leading renewed peace efforts between Palestine and Israel with the aim of solving the decades-long conflict between the countries.

However, The Israeli prime minister staunchly rejected the multilateral French initiative in April, saying the “best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is through direct, bilateral negotiations." Netanyahu has instead welcomed Egypt’s efforts to restart the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

The PA has repeatedly expressed support for the French initiative, and in April shelved the submission of a new anti-settlement resolution to the UN out of fear that doing so could thwart progress of new French proposals, causing outrage among various Palestinian political factions.

All past efforts towards peace negotiations have failed to end the decades-long Israeli military occupation or bring Palestinians closer to an independent contiguous state.

The most recent spate of negotiations led by the US collapsed in April 2014.

Israel claimed the process failed because the Palestinians refused to accept a US framework document outlining the way forward, while Palestinians pointed to Israel's ongoing settlement building and the government's refusal to release veteran prisoners.
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