JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he is prepared to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to achieve peace.
“There is nothing at all that prevents a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the right time for us to meet or at a time we need to meet,” Abbas said Saturday in Ramallah at a news conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius following a meeting between the two leaders.
Abbas said he agreed to renew negotiations with Israel after a three-year hiatus despite the turmoil in the rest of the Middle East, notably Egypt and Syria.
“When the negotiations opportunity opened, we took it without looking at what was going on in the region around us,” he said.
Abbas’ comments come about a month after the relaunching of peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. The teams met in Washington last month and twice in Jerusalem in the past two weeks.
Another meeting is expected to be held sometime this week in Jericho, the French news agency AFP reported. The meetings have been held under a near-complete media blackout at the request of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who brought the sides back together after several visits to the region.
Abbas called on Israel to halt construction in the settlements and called for progress in the talks.
“Palestine has now become a state under occupation,” he said. “This occupation must end on the basis of a two-state solution on the 1967 borders with a minor swap of lands equal in size and value.”
On Sunday, Israeli security personnel found a weapon and ammunition hidden under the seats of a Palestinian car at an Israeli checkpoint in central Israel.
The car containing two Palestinians was stopped and searched at the Hotze Shomron crossing on Route 5, the Trans-Samarian highway, after the guards became suspicious.
A submachine gun and ammunition were discovered hidden under the car’s upholstery.