Last updated: 1 September, 2015

Netanyahu ready for peace talks with Abbas “now”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he was willing to engage in immediate and direct peace talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, without preconditions.

“I am ready now to go to Ramallah or any other place in order to meet and hold direct negotiations,” Netanyahu told members of Women Wage Peace, established following last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“I have no preconditions for negotiations,” he said in remarks relayed by his office.

Yet he said, reiterating his longstanding position: “The solution is two states for two peoples -– a demilitarised Palestinian state that recognises the national state of the Jewish people.”

The women had fasted in relays over 50 days, the length of the war, which claimed the lives of 2,251 Palestinians, including more than 500 children. Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.

“If you intend to meet with Abu Mazen, tell him that I am ready to meet if he is,” Netanyahu said, using Abbas’s nickname.

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