Netanyahu to Offer Abbas Return to Direct Mideast Peace Talks, Sources Say

Officials at the Prime Minister's Office say premier will relay message during planned meeting with Palestinian delegation headed by Salam Fayyad Fayyad in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will offer a Palestinian delegation to upgrade Mideast peace negotiations to direct talks, to be led by Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a source in the Prime Minister's Office said on Wednesday.

On Sunday, Abbas told an unofficial Israeli delegation that the Palestinian Authority will renew its efforts to win UN recognition for a Palestinian state if it does not receive a positive response from Israel to its positions on a prospective peace deal.

abbas netanyahu - AP - September 15 2010

Abbas gave Netanyahu a month to respond to the Palestinian positions, which will be laid out in a letter to be delivered to Netanyahu next Wednesday during a meeting in Jerusalem with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

"It won't be just a letter," Abbas said, according to a source present at the meeting. "I also intend to turn to the public in Israel and around the world, and present the Palestinian positions regarding a peace agreement with Israel."

However, according Netanyahu aides on Wednesday, Netanyahu intends, during his planned meeting with a Fayyad, to upgrade peace talks to direct talks, led by himself and Abbas.

In addition, sources said that the premier's envoy Isaac Molho will also convey the message in a meeting with Abbas, scheduled to take place days after the arrival of the Palestinian delegation to Jerusalem, in which he will receive the Palestinian letter.

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office also responded to a statement by the foreign ministers of the Quartet earlier in the day, saying that the congratulated the message that called for continued direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, without preconditions.

The statement, which followed a Washington meeting, expressed the Quartet's "concern over ongoing settler violence and incitement in the West Bank," and called on Israel "to take effective measures, including bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice."

In addition, the statement said the Quartet was concerned "about unilateral and provocative actions by either party, including continued settlement activity, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations, the only way to a just and durable solution to the conflict."