Israel's Netanyahu invites Abbas to talk peace | world | Hindustan Times
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Israel's Netanyahu invites Abbas to talk peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday invited the Palestinians to sit down immediately to talk peace, but the Palestinian leader maintained his demand that first Israel must halt all West Bank settlement construction.

world Updated: Jul 12, 2009 19:05 IST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday invited the Palestinians to sit down immediately to talk peace, but the Palestinian leader maintained his demand that first Israel must halt all West Bank settlement construction.

The opposing views have become familiar in recent months. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's demand has been bolstered by the United States' insistence that Israel promote peacemaking by stopping the settlement construction that had bogged down previous rounds of talks.

"There is no reason Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and I should not meet, anywhere in this country, to advance the political process," Netanayhu told the weekly meeting of Israel's Cabinet.

Israel agreed under the US-backed "road map" peace plan to freeze all building in the West Bank, territory the Palestinians claim for part of a future state. But it has not honored that 2003 obligation, saying the Palestinians have not fulfilled their commitment to crack down on militant groups.

Abbas said at a news conference on Sunday that for negotiations on the key issues to resume, there must be "a complete halt to settlement activities."