x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Abbas to invite Israeli politicians for talks to keep peace high on agenda

Palestinian Authority president to invite Israeli politicians to the West Bank for talks in attempt to ensure peace is on the new government's agenda.

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK // A senior Palestinian official said the Palestinian Authority president would invite Israeli politicians to the West Bank for talks in an attempt to ensure peace is on the new Jewish government's agenda.

The overture aims to capitalise on the unexpected strength of the moderates in Israel's incoming parliament.

Abed Rabbo said Mr Abbas wanted to sit down with Israeli leaders before the country forms its next government, a process that is expected to take several weeks.

"We invite the Israeli parties, particularly the new ones, for dialogue on future accords," he said.

However, Mr Rabbo said the Palestinians had not dropped their demand that Israel halt all settlement construction before they return to talks.

He did not say when the invitations would be sent.

Tuesday's parliamentary vote ended in a surprise deadlock between a hawkish, religious bloc and a camp of centrist, secular and Arab parties.

While Benjamin Netanyahu, as head of the largest single party in parliament, appears set to remain prime minister, he cannot put together a stable coalition without drawing in moderates beyond his traditional hardline and religious base.