Netanyahu considering meeting with Abbas under Putin’s auspices

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is considering meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas under the auspices of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Netanyahu met Monday morning with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East. They discussed Putin’s proposal to host a face-to-face meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas in Moscow, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu is reviewing the proposal and considering the timing of a possible meeting, according to the statement. He told Bogdanov that he is always ready to meet with Abbas directly and without preconditions.

In late August, Abbas’ office said the Palestinians were ready to participate in a peace initiative.

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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.