JERUSALEM—Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is publicly making statements again about peace talks with the Palestinians.
Following a meeting with U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Netanyahu renewed his call for talks. He emphasized eliminating the possibility of preconditions, though.
“I think it's time to put aside posturing,” said Netanyahu in publicly released statements with Mitchell. “It's time to put aside preconditions. It's time to get on with direct talks—formal direct talks for peace.”
Netanyahu added that even though both sides have grievances and continue to raise questions to each other, “the time has come for direct talks.”
The prime minister’s comments came after Mitchell had visited the Kerem Shalom crossing to see the area where an increased amount of civilian goods will cross into Gaza.
In comments made at Mitchell’s side following their meeting, Netanyahu praised the former U.S. senator’s work to help start proximity peace talks—then challenged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to put his cards on the table and engage in direct talks.
“I call on President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) to come to Jerusalem,” stated Netanyahu. “I'm prepared to go to Ramallah.”
The prime minister asserted that the only solution to what he called the “intricate problems” between the two sides is to literally sit down face-to-face and “actually engage in serious deliberations for a solution.”
He added that engaging in direct talks is the Palestinian Authority’s greatest hope to convince the Israeli public of their willingness to peacefully coexist.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with President Obama in Washington next week. The focus of the meetings is expected to be how to start direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mitchell reiterated the prime minister’s call for direct talks by stating during the meeting on Wednesday that the United States is also pushing for the option.
“We know you share our belief that it is best for the people of Israel, for the Palestinian people, and we believe it's in the interest of the United States,” said Mitchell.