Israeli-Palestinian meeting "put off," Palestinian aide says
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with Israel's new vice premier on Sunday evening, a senior presidential aide said, after Palestinian demonstrators protested against the parley, dpa reported.
But Nemer Hammad denied that the Palestinian president had cancelled the meeting. No final date or place had "been agreed upon or set up in order to cancel it," Hammad told dpa. He gave no reason for the postponement.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat had said last week the meeting was expected to take place Sunday, emphasizing it did not mean a renewal of negotiations.
Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, of the centrist Kadima party, joined the right-wing coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May. He has since asked to meet Abbas.
As opposition leader, he had slammed the Netanyahu government for not doing more to try and renew peace talks with the Palestinians.
The lack of negotiations had harmed Israel, he had said, promising to make efforts to renew them a priority.
But the peace process has remained in limbo, with Israel demanding negotiations without preconditions and rejecting a Palestinian demand to freeze construction in its West Bank settlements.
Dozens of Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah Saturday against the expected meeting, trying to march on Abbas' headquarters. They were pushed back by uniformed and plain-clothed security officials. Witnesses said at least three people were injured and several others arrested.