Abbas: Palestinians ready to join peace initiative

(JTA) — The Palestinians are ready to participate in a peace initiative, the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said.

“We are ready to participate in any regional or international initiative with the objective of a comprehensive and fair solution,” the president’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said in a statement, the French news agency AFP reported Monday.

The statement comes amid unconfirmed reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin is arranging a meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Kremlin could not confirm such a meeting, AFP reported.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

The Israeli news website Ynet reported Sunday that an Abbas-Netanyahu meeting under the auspices of Putin would take place around October, citing unnamed Israeli and Palestinian officials.

The Palestinians favor the French peace initiative launched in June at a one-day summit in Paris of foreign ministers from two dozen countries aimed at rebooting peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, who were not invited to the event. The ministers proposed an international conference to further talks between the two sides by the end of the year without setting a date.

Israel has balked at the initiative, saying it enables the Palestinians to continue to avoid the direct talks Israel wants and compromise.

Abbas and Netanyahu last met officially in 2010, but it is believed that since then they have held secret meetings.