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Israeli president calls on Abbas to renew peace talks

Jan. 18, 2015 9:42 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 20, 2015 5:05 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday urged his Palestinian counterpart to renew peace talks instead of pursuing efforts at the International Criminal Court or United Nations.

"There is no other way than direct negotiations. Unilateral steps will not solve the conflict, but just give more power to the extremists," Rivlin said during a visit by a delegation of US senators headed by Republican John McCain.

"I call upon President (Mahmoud) Abbas: instead of going to The Hague or to the United Nations, come to Jerusalem. Come to talk directly to the Israeli government and people," Rivlin said.

Palestine applied earlier this month to become a party to the Hague-based ICC and recognized its jurisdiction to retroactively cover a period including the Gaza war.

The ICC announced Friday it was launching a "preliminary examination" into Israel's actions in the Palestinian territories, including last summer's war with Gaza militants.

The Palestinians last month also attempted to have a resolution passed at the UN Security Council on ending Israel's occupation, but it was rejected.

Both moves were strongly condemned by Israel and its key ally the United States.

The latest round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed nine months ago without any visible results.

The presidency in Israel is a largely ceremonial post, but past presidents have used the position to promote political messages.

Rivlin, who was a long-time member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, had in the past spoken against establishing a Palestinian state but since being sworn in as president in July 2014 largely restricted his public statements to internal Israeli issues.
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