JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since the new Israeli government was sworn in.
Netanyahu called Abbas to offer greetings on the occasion of the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. But he also called for the two men to speak to each other again at the start of new peace negotiations.
“I called to greet you on the occasion of Ramadan. I hope that we will have an opportunity to speak to each other and not just on holidays, and that we begin negotiations,” Netanyahu said during the Sunday evening phone conversation, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“This is important. I hope that American Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts have results.”
Kerry reportedly will return to the Middle East at the end of the week, depending on the health of his wife, who was hospitalized last week.
Ramadan began on July 9 and continues for one month.
Israeli President Shimon Peres delivered a message to the Muslim world in honor of Ramadan. The message was distributed through social media channels.
“Dear friends, Ramadan Kareem is not only a holiday for you but a celebration for all of us, after all we are coming from the same family, the family of Abraham and after all you, us, the Christians, all of us pray to the Lord to end the bloodshed, to let the children be safe in their homes, to make it unnecessary for the mothers to cry,” Peres said in his message.
“We have to come together, we have to do whatever we can as human beings, as believers to do it immediately.”