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Palestinian leaders reject Netanyahu letter to Abbas

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Palestinian leaders reportedly have rejected the contents of a letter delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal envoy, Isaac Molcho, to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"The content of [Netanyahu's] letter did not represent grounds for returning to negotiations," Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Reuters.

The letter delivered Saturday night was in response to a letter sent to the Israeli prime minister last month from Abbas in which the PA chief blamed Netanyahu for the stalled peace process. The Abbas letter said the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table only if Israel accepts a two-state solution based on 1967 borders with "limited" land swaps, halts all settlement building and releases Palestinian prisoners.

Molcho and Abbas issued a joint statement following the meeting saying that "Israel and the Palestinian Authority are committed to achieving peace, and the sides hope that the exchange of letters between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu will further this goal."

A statement issued Saturday night from the Prime Minister’s Office did not divulge the contents of the letter. But Palestinian leaders said Sunday afternoon that Netanyahu’s letter rejected the Palestinian’s requirement for a halt to building in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem and called for a return to stalled peace talks without preconditions.

During the meeting with Molcho, Abbas reportedly brought up the plight of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and asked Israel to accede to their demands, including no solitary confinement and family visits for prisoners whose families live in Gaza.

 

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