Abbas calls for talks without preconditions


The Palestinian Authority has been sending Israel mixed signals about the resumption of diplomatic negotiations.

On Saturday in an interview with an Israeli-Arab website, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the re-elected prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to re-enter talks "without preconditions".

In what sounded like a reversal of statements by his senior advisers in recent weeks and his own claim that "Israel has abandoned the path of peace", Mr Abbas said: "I am calling upon the Israeli people, do not refuse the hand reached out to you. I have no problem holding talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu as he represents the state of Israel."

The interview came after a week in which the PA joined the International Criminal Court as a member nation. So far, however, it has not acted to initiate war crimes investigations. Subsequently, the prime minister's office announced that it was releasing tax revenues that Israel collects on the PA's behalf. The funds had been frozen since January, when the Palestinians asked for ICC membership.

On Sunday, however, Mr Abbas said the PA that would not accept the money unless Israel transferred the full sum demanded by the Palestinians, which is close to £340m.

So far there has not been an official Israeli response to Mr Abbas's statements. Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said that it was pointless to begin any high-level engagement before the new government is sworn in, which will take a few more weeks.

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