Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resume direct peace negotiations, as Netanyahu forged a new national unity government between his Likud Party and the Kadima party, led by former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz.
“I hope that President Abbas will use this opportunity to resume the peace talks,” Netanyahu said as he announced the unity government, according to the Jerusalem Post:
“The Quartet suggested a few months ago a straightforward procedure: the resumption of direct negotiations without preconditions. That has always been our position and that is our position now,” Netanyahu said. “I do not know how you advance negotiations, let alone conclude them without engaging in them. We are prepared to engage in them at any time.”
“The process is not stuck because of us, that is the truth,” he added. “It is stuck because until the Palestinians have not decided to sit and negotiate with us.”
As Israel’s former leading opposition party, Kadima took a more dovish line on the Palestinian issue than Netanyahu’s Likud, leading to speculation that the new national unity government might be as aggressive in pursuing negotiations with the Palestinians as it will be in confronting the threat of a nuclear Iran.
As for Abbas, he has seemed more optimistic about negotiations in recent days, but has not made any explicit commitments to return to the table.