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Netanyahu: waiting for a visit from Abbas

Netanyahu said that if the two met he would discuss a wave of violence which has left 200 Palestinians and 28 Israelis dead since October

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said he was waiting for a visit from Mahmud Abbas, after the Palestinian president said he had already proposed such a meeting.

“A few days ago, on Israeli television, I heard president Abbas say that if I invite him to meet, he’ll come,” Netanyahu told reporters at a meeting with visiting Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek.

“I’m inviting him again,” he said in English. “I’ve cleared my schedule this week. Any day he can come, I’ll be here.”

In an interview with commercial TV station Channel 2 on Thursday, Abbas said that he was ready to meet Netanyahu “any time.”

“And I suggested, by the way, for him to meet,” he said in English.

Asked what Netanyahu’s response to the offer was, he refused to answer.

“He will tell you,” the Palestinian leader said.

After Netanyahu’s remarks, Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Abbas wanted a just peace based on “international legitimacy and agreements that have already been signed”.

“Our position is that Israel must recognise the two-state solution and stop settlement building,” he told AFP.

US-backed peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel collapsed in April 2014 after nine months amid bitter recriminations and mutual blame.

Abbas and Netanyahu shook hands at a climate summit in Paris in November, but held no significant talks.

The last substantial public meeting between them is thought to date back to 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.

Netanyahu on Monday said that if the two met he would discuss a wave of violence which has left 200 Palestinians and 28 Israelis dead since October.

“We have a lot of things to discuss, but the first item is ending the Palestinian campaign of incitement to murder Israelis,” he said.

Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities.

But Israeli forces have been also accused of using excessive force in some cases, charges which they have firmly denied.

Palestinians and many analysts say frustration with Israel’s occupation and settlement building along with the lack of any progress on peace efforts have fed the unrest.

“Lack of hope. Lack of trust,” Abbas, who has called for peaceful resistance, said in last week’s interview as reasons for why the knife attacks have continued.

He said that if Netanyahu were to engage in serious peace talks Palestinian attacks would cease.

“If he tells me that he believes in the two-state solution and we sit around the table to talk about a two-state solution, this will give my people hope,” he said.

“And nobody will dare to go and stab or shoot or do anything here or there.”