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Abbas says leadership willing to begin negotiations with Israel

Sept. 22, 2018 2:31 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 23, 2018 1:16 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated, following his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the lys e Palace in Paris on Friday evening, that the Palestinian leadership is willing to begin confidential or public peace negotiations with Israel.

"We have not rejected negotiations, as the Israelis say, but (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu always refused," Abbas told reporters during a press conference outside the palace following the meeting.

"We have declared our position towards the negotiations," Abbas added, "the Israelis say that the Palestinians reject negotiations. I challenge them if we were once called for secret or public negotiations in more than one state and we rejected. Rather, Netanyahu always rejected."

The President said "We are ready to begin negotiations in private or in public, provided that such negotiations be brokered by the Quartet and other countries. We welcome any European or Arab country."

When asked about France's possible recognition of a Palestinian state, Abbas said that the French are interested in this matter, adding that they believe it is one of the most important issues of interest to them.

For his part, French President Macron stressed that the demolition of the Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin village, east of Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank, is a very serious violation of the international law, urging Israel not to carry out the demolition.

Macron also condemned Israel's settlement policy, pointing out that it has been accelerating recently.

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