Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas Agree to Moscow Meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas the Palestinian President agreed in principle to meet in Russia with the Foreign Ministry saying that more attempts are going to be made to renew the peace process between Israel and Palestinians

Vladimir Putin the Russian President is attempting to arrange the meeting of Netanyahu and Abbas, said the foreign ministry in Russia on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the ministry in Moscow said Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to meet by no date has been established for the meeting.

The spokesperson’s statement on the possible meeting of the two Middle East leaders was delivered during a daily briefing with the press in Moscow and part of the summary of a trip by Mikhail Bogdanov the Deputy Foreign Minister to both Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority earlier in the week.

The visit by Bogdanov focused on the proposal from Putin to host the meeting between the two leaders in Moscow. Bogdanov met with Palestinian officials and Netanyahu and spoke to Abbas on the telephone.

The spokesperson said the two leaders still did not agree to enough things to set up a meeting and that they would continue to make contact with each party.

She added that the government of Russia believes a need exists to renew the peace process for Israel and the Palestinians as part of a bigger effort of stabilizing the region.

A spokesperson for the foreign ministry said both Netanyahu as well as Abbas expressed a willingness to meet in Russia, and that the foreign ministry was pleased with how their initiative had been received.

Abbas claimed this week that President Putin proposed the meeting be held in Moscow as early as Friday. Abbas announced that he agreed to meet but that Netanyahu had sought to postpone the meeting to a later time.

Senior officials in Israel confirmed the proposal from Moscow of holding a meeting Friday, but said Netanyahu requested it be postponed because he did not want a meeting held on Shabbat eve and because he did not receive clarifications if Abbas had been demanding something from Israel in exchange for attending the Friday meeting.

Netanyahu wants to hold the meeting without preconditions.

Some officials in the Palestinian Authority claimed recently that Abbas was not setting preconditions for a peace meeting with Netanyahu. However, other officials continue to insist that conditions for the meeting should be the release of prisoners, a building freeze on settlements and a willingness by Israel to negotiate the borders of a future Palestinian state.

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