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Presidency: Abbas to meet Israeli deputy PM in July

June 17, 2012 6:38 P.M. (Updated: June 18, 2012 7:41 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet Israeli deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz until next month, and the time has yet to be arranged, the presidential spokesman said Sunday.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh told Ma'an that Mofaz asked for the meeting, which is now being prepared, but Abbas will be busy until June 26 when he will visit Saudi Arabia to offer his condolences for the Crown Prince who died on Saturday.

The president traveled to the Gulf on Sunday to attend Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud's funeral.

Abu Rudaineh stressed that Abbas is ready to meet with any Israeli official, and the Mofaz meeting does not entail a return to negotiations.

However, the president will only meet with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu if Israel agrees to free seriously ill prisoners, and those detained prior to the Oslo accords, as well as releasing security equipment purchased for the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat is in Washington this week to appraise the US position towards a renewed Palestinian push for membership of the United Nations, Abu Rudaineh added.

The leadership is consulting with Arab states on its next move, after the president's 2011 bid at the Security Council faltered, but the outcome depends on new ideas to renew negotiations, he said.

The last round of direct peace negotiations collapsed in September 2010 when Netanyahu refused to extend a partial freeze on illegal settlement building.

Israeli and PLO envoys held five meetings in Amman in January, but the preliminary talks failed to yield full scale negotiations.
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