Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has declined to join a meeting scheduled for next month between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth has reported.
According to an unnamed source quoted by the paper, "Abbas rejected Obama's demand on the condition [that he] receives more goodwill gestures from Israel as a precondition for meeting with Netanyahu." According to the report, Abbas told Obama that he doubted that Israel truly wanted a peace a peace agreement.
The report comes a day after reports surfaced that the Palestinian Authority turned down calls by Netanyahu for direct peace talks.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Sa'eb Erekat told the official Voice of Palestine radio, "Netanyahu knows well what he needs to do to kick off direct talks...Settlement freeze is the solution."
In a press statement released earlier this week, Netanyahu said Israel has taken steps to advance peace, for instance removing West Bank roadblocks and freezing settlement construction. Erekat said the PA does not oppose speaking with Israel, "but Netanyahu needs to reveal his stance toward the issue of settlement activity in the West bank and Jerusalem."
The PA has demanded that Israel fully freeze all settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Israel has agreed only to temporary freezes, maintaining that it will permit "natural growth." Direct talks between Israel and the PA broke down after Israel waged a three-week offensive into the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip last year.