Fayyad backs out of meeting with Netanyahu

By Noah Browning

RAMALLAH (Reuters) — A planned meeting Tuesday between the Israeli and Palestinian Authority prime ministers may be canceled or postponed after Salam Fayyad refused to attend, senior Palestinian officials said.

Fayyad was reluctant to be seen as engaging with Israel on a day when more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike to protest against their conditions in Israeli jails, the officials said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office had released no details of a time or venue for what were to have been the highest-level talks with the Palestinians since peace negotiations broke off in 2010.

But Israeli officials, asking for anonymity because no official announcement on the talks had been made, had said Monday that the meeting was to be held on Tuesday.

Palestinian officials said Fayyad was to have delivered a letter to Netanyahu from President Mahmoud Abbas detailing grievances on the stalled peace talks and reiterating a call to halt settlement building.

Instead, the letter may be handed to a senior Netanyahu aide by PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat later Tuesday or Fayyad might meet the Israeli leader on a less politically charged date, the officials said.

Earlier, an Israeli official said Netanyahu would reiterate his call for talks to resume without any preconditions and for a meeting with Abbas.

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