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Abbas ready for Knesset 'on own terms'

Nov. 23, 2013 11:43 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2013 2:27 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – President Mahmoud Abbas says he is ready to go to the Israeli Knesset but on his own terms rather than what the Israeli prime minister “wants me to say.”

In an interview Friday with Voice of Russia radio, Abbas explained that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited him to address the parliament and insisted he make certain remarks.

“If he wants to invite me to say what I want to say, I am ready to go,” Abbas countered.

Netanyahu on Monday invited Abbas to address the Israeli parliament and publicly recognize Jewish links to the land of Israel.

"I call on him from here today: let's break the deadlock," Netanyahu said in a special address to the parliament, or Knesset, in honor of a visit by French President Francois Hollande.

"Come to the Israeli Knesset and I'll come to Ramallah," he said.

"Get up on this platform and recognize the historical truth: the Jews have a nearly 4,000-year-old link to the land of Israel. The Jews are a people with a right to self-determination," he said.

"In real peace, all Palestinian claims regarding the State of Israel will end, including national claims on its territory and sovereignty."

Asked in the radio interview Friday when he thinks a Palestinian state will be completely ready, Abbas said it will be ready when Israel is convinced of the necessity to create and maintain peace in the Middle East.

“At that point, there will be an independent Palestinian state and holy Jerusalem will be its capital,” Abbas said.

When asked about the issues he will address during his expected visit to Russia by the end of 2013, Abbas answered that he would talk about the ongoing peace negotiations with Israel and the issue of how late president Yasser Arafat died.

“We will ask the Russians to help us with that issue,” Abbas said.

The president added that he would discuss with the Russian administration the ongoing fighting in Syria and the unresolved rivalry between his party Fatah and Hamas movement.

He highlighted that the Palestinian leadership was not considering applying for full membership of the state of Palestine in the UN.

“We have become a non-member state and we address the world according to that. We could look into full membership later,” he said.

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