Israeli president-elect: dialogue needed, ready to meet with Abbas
Israel's president-elect Reuven Rivlin has been a staunch supporter of illegal settlement construction in the West Bank (AFP)
Tel Aviv's so-called "hawkish" president-elect said this week that "he is willing" to meet with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, according to Agence France Presse.
Israeli President-elect Reuven Rivlin told Yedioth Aharanoth newspaper this week, "I met with Abu Mazen (Abbas) in the past on a number of occasions and I will also meet with him in the future."
The president-elect's quote is considered somewhat surprising due to his strong opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state as well as his consistent backing of settlement construction in the West Bank.
In 2010, Rivlin was quotes as saying that he would "rather accept Palestinians as Israeli citizens than divide Israel and the West Bank in a future two-state peace solution," according to the AFP report.
However, Rivlin's latest commentary may represent a change of heart to some extent, along with his latest call for direct dialogue earlier this week in Jerusalem.
"We both realize that direct dialogue is the condition for our Middle East to be a safe place," Rivlin was quoted as saying Wednesday at a three-day conference in Jerusalem.
Rivlin also told Yedioth Aharanoth according to the AFP article that he received a letter from Abbas to congratulate him on his election win as well as call for a peace agreement and an independent Palestinian state.