Netanyahu Torpedoed Abbas-Mofaz Meeting, Claim Sources Close to Vice PM

Accusation comes day after tensions arise over replacement to Tal Law; PM associates call claims 'embarrassing.'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his advisor to request Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cancel his upcoming meeting with Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, said Mofaz's associates on Saturday.

According to the sources, Netanyahu and his advisors, including attorney Isaac Molho, acted to cancel the meeting as part of a struggle over the replacement of the Tal Law, and the tension that has erupted between Netanyahu and Mofaz over the issue.

Mofaz's associates claim that the Prime Minister's Office torpedoed the meeting with Abbas a day after a Netanyahu and Mofaz failed to come up with an outline for a new IDF draft bill.

Associates of Netanyahu rejected the claims, calling them "embarrassing," and adding that they were "invented only after the Palestinians announced that the meetings were cancelled due to protests in Ramallah."

During his meeting with Netanyahu, Mofaz stated that personal sanctions must be imposed on young ultra-Orthodox and Arab men who do not enlist in military or national service. He further demanded that the law be effective in order to bring about a significant increase in enlistment in the aforementioned sectors. According to Mofaz, an increase is impossible without implementing sanctions.

Earlier on Saturday, Palestinian sources told Haaretz that the meeting planned for Sunday was "postponed due to public pressure on Abbas to cancel it."

On Thursday, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that the planned meeting did not symbolize renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Negotiations between the two sides were halted in October 2010 when a 10-month Israeli freeze on settlement building in the West Bank came to an end. Since then, the Palestinians have demanded an end to settlement building as a precondition to renewing talks between the sides.

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