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Mahmoud Abbas : 'I want to work with Netanyahu'

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Abbas hopes for Arab League approval for proximity talks on May 1.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday declared his willingness to work with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, adding that he hoped to get Arab League approval for indirect proximity talks on May 1.”Try me,” Abbas told Channel 2. “I say on behalf of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, that we are prepared for an agreement.”

He said that US Middle East envoy George Mitchell had put forward “various ideas” on his recent trips to the region, and that the PLO would present its proposal to the Arab League on the first day of next month.

“I hope the response will be a positive one,” he said.

The PA president emphasized that the demand for a halt to Jewish construction in east Jerusalem was not a new one, and that the PA had been calling for such a freeze since the Road Map was compiled.

Stressing that Netanyahu was the prime minister “chosen by the Israeli people and elected by the Knesset,” Abbas said that on that basis, it was his “duty to work with him.”

In response, Netanyahu said he “commends any willingness to resume peace talks.”

Regarding the ‘Law of Return’ for Palestinians refugees, the PA leader hinted that he was not asking for an influx of Palestinians into Israel, merely saying, “The Road Map stipulates a ‘just solution,’ so let’s just say, I want a “just solution.'”

He expressed confidence at being able to “explain” the agreed-upon solution to the refugee issue to the Palestinian people.

Concerning recent calls for renewed Palestinian resistance in the West Bank, Abbas said he did “not want demonstrations that deteriorate into violence.”

Abbas played down PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad’s stated intention to declare a Palestinian state in 2011, saying, “There will be no unilateral moves, we want an agreement.”

In a message of reassurance about Hamas rule in Gaza, Abbas said he was confident that the Arab world would solve the issue, and stressed that he was in “constant contact” with the group in a bid for a reconciliation agreement.

The PA president went on to say that he had made an offer to Hamas to take captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit off the group’s hands and allow Abbas to hammer out a swap deal, but to no avail.

“I have said to Hamas 100 times, ‘Give Schalit to me and I’ll get a deal that will satisfy everyone,'” he said.

He recounted how during talks with the previous Israeli government, the two sides had agreed to negotiate “based on the 1967 borders with land swaps.”

“I presented my maps and [former prime minister Ehud Olmert] responded with his maps,” he said.

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