WARSAW (AFP) – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Tuesday that an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had suggested delaying a proposed meeting between the two leaders in Moscow on Friday.
“Netanyahu’s representative proposed to delay this meeting to a later date. So the meeting will not happen,” Abbas said at a joint press conference in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
“But I am ready and I declare again that I will go to any meeting.”
Abbas had agreed to a Russian proposal to meet Netanyahu as part of a new peace push, a Palestinian official said Monday in Ramallah.
Netanyahu said he was open to such a meeting together with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which Abbas said had been scheduled for September 9.
But the Palestinians have questioned Israel’s commitment to the initiative, and disagreements have derailed previous attempts to arrange talks.
Abbas said international help to end the conflict was crucial.
“The peace process has stalled because of the Israeli government’s position and we now need the political and economic help of the United States and the European Union, especially to rebuild our infrastructure,” he said.
During talks with Duda, the two discussed “the creation of a special Polish-Palestinian industrial zone in the Palestinian territories,” he said.
The Palestinian leader also said he expected “a second round of talks this year” hosted by France, which is aimed at pulling together an international conference to reboot Middle East peace talks by the year’s end.
Abbas’s office has previously said the Palestinians are ready to participate in any peace initiative aimed at a “comprehensive and fair solution”.
But Palestinian leaders also say years of negotiations with the Israelis have not ended the occupation of the West Bank, and they have more recently pursued an international strategy.
They say an Abbas-Netanyahu meeting would lead nowhere without a freeze on Israeli settlement building, the release of Palestinian prisoners and a deadline for an end to the occupation.
Peace efforts have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.
The last substantial public meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu is thought to have been in 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.