Netanyahu rejected offer for Russia-hosted summit with Abbas: report
Yuri KADOBNOV (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly declined a Russian offer to host a summit with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, saying that he would not meet with the Palestinian leader until the United States reveals its long-anticipated peace proposal.
Israel’s Channel 10 reported Thursday that the prospect of a Moscow-hosted summit was raised during Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s meeting with Netanyahu earlier this week.
The report cited Russian diplomats as saying that Netanyahu was briefed by Lavrov on the July 14 meeting between Abbas and Putin in Moscow, during which the Russian president once again raised his offer to host a meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
According to the diplomats, Abbas responded positively to the offer and said he would have no problems attending such a meeting.
Netanyahu, however, reportedly told Lavrov that while he would not object in principle to a summit with Abbas he did not want to hold such a meeting before the US revealed its peace plan, unnamed Israeli officials told Channel 10.
"I want to exhaust the American move first," Netanyahu reportedly told Lavrov.
This is the second time Netanyahu has rejected a meeting with Abbas under Russia’s auspices, after evading a similar offer in September 2016.
Both leaders have said several times that they are happy to meet the other without any preconditions, but none have ever materialized. Their last meeting consisted of a spontaneous and brief handshake at the funeral of late Israeli president Shimon Peres in 2016.
Attempts by the Obama administration to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks fizzled in 2014, and a mooted plan to renew negotiations by the Trump White House appears to have stalled following a series of contentious diplomatic moved by the US President.
Since launching a military intervention backing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in 2015, Russia has become a powerful player in the Middle East, forming strategic partnerships also with Iran and Turkey.
Israel has lent heavily on Moscow for support in its campaign to prevent southwest Syria from becoming a stronghold of Iranian and Iranian-backed forces.
Defense officials of both countries also co-operate closely despite the Kremlin's affinity with some of Israel's top rivals.
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At times like this, I feel #Netanyahu is incredibly dense. IMHO, this was an incredible opportunity to play both sides against the middle. For example: I am willing to come provided you both acknowledge Israel already made a commitment to the US process. Even if you (Putin/Abbas) were to offer a sweetheart deal, Israel is still obligated to make no commitments until the US weighs in. So, yes, I'm willing to listen and suggest you also invite an American representative.