Last updated: 24 January, 2013

Palestinians seek talks with Israeli centrists

The Palestinian leadership wants new dialogue with Israeli political parties, particularly centrists who emerged strong in this week’s election, an official said Thursday.

“The Palestinian leadership watches the results of the Israeli elections with great interest, and we think that these elections constitute a new chance for the Israelis to express themselves,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, an official with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, told reporters.

“We are willing to open a dialogue with those Israeli parties who are ready,” he added.

“We extend a political invitation to Israeli parties, particularly the new ones among them, to open a dialogue before the formation of a new government,” Abed Rabbo added in comments to AFP.

The invitation appeared to be directed in particular at the centrist Yesh Atid party, which claimed second place in the election, and HaTnuah, led by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

The dialogue would “discuss the bases on which it is possible to negotiate and the result that we seek from these negotiations,” he added.

Lapid, who is expected to be the second partner in Israel’s next government, and has even been floated as a potential foreign minister, has said he favours negotiations with the Palestinians.

But he opposes the sharing of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, who want the eastern part of the city for their capital, and believes most of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank should be annexed to the Jewish state.

Peace talks have been on hold since September 2010, with the Palestinians insisting on a settlement freeze before returning to the negotiating table and the Israelis insisting on no preconditions.