Netanyahu offers condolences on death of Abbas’ brother

Abbas’s brother Omar died in Qatar on Thursday, with the funeral taking place on Friday

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas Friday to offer condolences on the death of his brother, an Israeli official said.

Abbas’s brother Omar died in Qatar on Thursday, with the funeral taking place on Friday.

He had been suffering from cancer, according to Israeli media reports.

The official, in the Israeli prime minister’s office, told AFP that Netanyahu’s telephone call to Abbas was “only to offer condolences.”

No other topics were discussed, he said.

Palestinian state media confirmed the call.

Relations between the two men are frosty, with Netanyahu accusing Abbas of libelling the Jewish people last month after he suggested some rabbis had called for Palestinian wells to be poisoned.

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

The last substantial public meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu is thought to have happened in 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.

The last talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in April 2014 despite intense American diplomatic efforts.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, the architect of those talks, was meant to meet Abbas in Paris on Friday evening, but the meeting was cancelled following news of the Palestinian president’s bereavement.

Addressing journalists in Vienna before flying to Paris, Kerry said the meeting would take place towards the end of July.
“I talked to him last night... he and I will meet somewhere shortly after the period of mourning,” Kerry said.

Israel has called for direct peace negotiations without preconditions, but the Palestinian leadership prefers a multilateral approach, saying Israel’s leadership has failed to abide by previous agreements.

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