Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday with Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and addressed at the beginning of the meeting his government’s hope that peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority will resume immediately.
“We’re ready to enter such negotiations. Â I hope the Palestinians are too. Â And I have to say that our goal is not just to enter and put a ‘V’ [check the box] to show that we’ve begun negotiations. Â Our goal is to persist in the negotiations, to engage in them consistently over a serious period of time in order to try to grapple with all the issues and come to an agreement that resolves the fundamental issues in the conflict,” he said.
The comments came amid a report from Israeli daily Ma’ariv, that Netanyahu is drawing up a proposal under which Israel will release security convicts held for over 20 years, in exchange for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas foregoing his demand that the borders of a Palestinian Arab state on the basis of the 1967 border must be a precondition for holding direct talks with Israel.
Ma’ariv also reported Netanyahu intends to freeze construction in settlements outside the settlement blocks in Judea and Samaria.
Israeli media reported Monday that Abbas told aides he was prepared to resume direct talks with Israel, but for a predetermined period in order to test Netanyahu’s seriousness. According to the reports, Abbas will resume unilateral steps at the UN if he does not see a concerted effort on the part of Israel to reach a quick settlement.