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Netanyahu Calls Palestine’s Abbas to Offer Condolences on Brother’s Death

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas Friday (July 22) to offer condolences on the death of his brother, an Israeli official told AFP.

Abbas’ brother Omar died in Qatar Thursday, with the funeral taking place on Friday.

He had been suffering from cancer according to Israeli media reports.

The official, in the Israeli prime minister’s office, said Netanyahu called Abbas on Friday but that the conversation was “only to offer condolences.”

No other topics were discussed, he said.

 Palestinian state media confirmed the call.

Relations between the two men are frosty, with Netanyahu accusing Abbas of libelling the Jewish people last month after he suggested some rabbis had called for Palestinian wells to be poisoned.

Abbas and Netanyahu shook hands at a climate summit in Paris in November, but held no significant talks.

The last substantial public meeting between them is thought to date back to 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.

Israel has called for direct peace negotiations without preconditions, but the Palestinian leadership prefers a multilateral approach – saying Israel’s leadership has failed to abide by previous agreements.

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