Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is open to immediate peace talks
His statement comes a day after Palestinian leadership said it cannot be bound by Oslo Accords
A day after the leader of the Palestinian Authority announced that Palestinians were stepping away from the Oslo Accords, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu asked for peace talks to resume.
“I am prepared to immediately resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without any preconditions whatsoever,” Netanyahu said in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday.
One day earlier, at the same podium, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of not committing to peace agreements known as the Oslo Accords and declared that Palestinians “cannot continue to be bound by these agreements.”
“They leave us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements, while Israel continuously violates them,” Abbas said Wednesday
The consequences of Abbas’ declaration remain unclear, and its practical effects on the relations between Israelis and Palestinians are uncertain, including its effects on security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu’s tack was to ask for renewed negotiations and paint the Palestinian leadership as unwilling to try talks. Israel is prepared to begin peace talks immediately, he said.
“Unfortunately, President Abbas said yesterday that he is not prepared to do this,” he said Thursday. “Well, I hope he changes his mind, because I remain committed to a vision of two states, two peoples in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.”
The Israeli leader accused the Palestinians of not wanting to end the conflict.
“How can Israel make peace with a Palestinian partner who even refuses to sit at the negotiating table? Israel expects the Palestinian Authority to abide by its commitments,” Netanyahu said. “Palestinians should not walk away from peace.”
Whether the implications of Abbas’ speech would play out differently in the West Bank and in Gaza, where the Palestinian Authority’s governing Fatah party has little influence, also remains to be seen.
Hamas, which rules Gaza, called on Abbas to end all agreements with Israel, but a deep divide has thwarted political reconciliation between the two territories, each led by its respective group.
Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council, asserted that all forms of security coordination between Palestinians and Israelis have now been canceled.
Palestinians will begin using nonviolent resistance while calling for sanctions against Israel, Barghouti said.
Netanyahu’s office also called on the Palestinian Authority and Abbas to “act responsibly” and join Israel in direct negotiations without preconditions.
The agreements, negotiated in secret in a series of meetings in London and Norway, were first signed on September 13, 1993, and established a framework for future negotiations, calling for a “comprehensive peace settlement” within five years.
The Oslo Accords also established economic and security coordination between Israelis and Palestinians, leaving the questions of borders and Jerusalem for future negotiations. Many observers say, however, the accords were never fully implemented.
CNN’s Michael Martinez wrote and reported from Los Angeles, and Richard Roth from New York City. Oren Liebermann contributed from Jerusalem, and Ray Sanchez from New York.