Netanyahu Calls for Direct Talks with Abbas in New York

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 12:20 am (UTC-5)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for direct negotiations to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is vowing to press ahead with an application at the United Nations for a Palestinian state.

Mr. Netanyahu appealed to the Palestinian leader to open talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meetings and continue them in Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah.

His call on Monday to relaunch stalled talks comes as Mr. Abbas, who is already in New York for the U.N. meetings, outlined his plan for full membership in the world body to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The U.N. chief responded by calling on the Palestinians and Israelis to resume negotiations within what he called “a legitimate and balanced framework.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters the United States also is urging a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as a way to avoid a diplomatic crisis over the Palestinian membership bid.

Mr. Netanyahu flies to New York on Tuesday and is scheduled to meet this week with U.S. President Barack Obama. Mr. Netanyahu has said the Palestinians' U.N. bid is doomed to fail and that Palestinians would ultimately seek renewed talks.

Mr. Abbas is set to meet Tuesday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Monday there is great risk if the conflict is not resolved, and that the only solution is to resume negotiations.

U.S.-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled a year ago, after an Israeli moratorium on West Bank settlement construction expired. Palestinians oppose construction on land they want as part of a future state.

Mr. Abbas has said a Palestinian state must have the borders that were in place before Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.