Is­raeli PM in­vites Ab­bas to Knes­set

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Michael As­tor

UNITED NA­TIONS — Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu in­vited Pales­tinian Author­ity Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas to ad­dress Is­rael’s par­lia­ment, the Knes­set, dur­ing a speech be­fore the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly on Thurs­day.

Ne­tanyahu said that in re­turn he would like to ad­dress the Pales­tinian Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil.

“I am ready to ne­go­ti­ate all fi­nal sta­tus, but one thing I will never ne­go­ti­ate is the right to a one and only Jewish state,” Ne­tanyahu said, ar­gu­ing that re­cent changes in the Mid­dle East would lead to im­proved re­la­tions with Is­rael’s neigh­bors.

The Palestinians have re­buffed Ne­tanyahu’s past of­fers for meet­ings, say­ing there is no point given his hard-line po­si­tions on all core is­sues. Ne­tanyahu re­jects a set­tle­ment freeze, re­jects the 1967 bor­ders as the ba­sis for talks and re­jects any di­vi­sion of Jerusa- lem. He has also said he would not up­root set­tle­ments.

Speak­ing shortly be­fore Ne­tanyahu, Ab­bas called on the 193-mem­ber world body to ex­ert greater ef­fort than at any time in the past to es­tab­lish a truly in­de­pen­dent Pales­tinian state, as the 50th an­niver­sary of Is­rael’s “ab­hor­rent” oc­cu­pa­tion ap­proaches in June 2017.

He also called on the U.N. to de­clare 2017 “the in­ter­na­tional year to end the Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion of our land and our peo­ple.”

Ab­bas said “our hand re­mains out­stretched for mak­ing peace,” but he ques­tioned whether any Is­raeli leader is ready to make “a true peace that will aban­don the men­tal­ity of hege­mony, ex­pan­sion­ism and col­o­niza­tion.”

Ab­bas also ac­cused Is­rael of “con­tin­u­ing to evade” an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence that France wants to hold be­fore the end of the year to fo­cus on a frame­work and time­line for end­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion.

SPENCER PLATT/GETTY

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu ex­tends the in­vi­ta­tion Thurs­day dur­ing a speech at the United Na­tions.

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