Israeli PM says he is willing to meet Palestinian president

Jerusalem, Oct 16 (IANS) Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he would be “perfectly open” to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in order to calm the month-long Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Netanyahu told a press conference that he was talking with US Secretary of State John Kerry about a meeting with Palestinian leaders. “I have no problem of meeting with Abbas, Kerry, Jordan’s King Abdullah and others,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

Netanyahu also denounced Abbas for falsely claiming that Israel “executed” a teen Palestinian suspect who is recovering in a hospital in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, Abbas said in a televised speech that Israel was using excessive force against Palestinians and were “executing our children in cold blood”. He claimed that Ahmed Manasra, a 13-year-old boy who was involved in stabbing an Israeli boy, was one of those killed.

Abbas was speaking amid spiking tensions between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Over the past month, eight Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks, while 32 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including at least 10 who were identified by Israel as attackers.

Abbas’ remark triggered an uproar in Israel, with Netanyahu condemning it as a “wild incitement that fuels terror”.

“President Abbas accused Israel of executing an innocent Palestinian boy. First of all, he’s alive. Secondly, he is not innocent; he tried to murder an innocent Israeli youngster who was riding bicycles,” Netanyahu said at the press conference.

An official with the Hadassah Medical Centre, where Manasra is recovering, said he was admitted to hospital with a head injury, but his condition has been “stabilised”. He added that the boy is recovering well and “at this point he’s awake, eating and watching TV”.

The US also criticized Israel’s conduct on Wednesday, with the State Department suggesting Israel might have used excessive force, mostly in its treatment of alleged Palestinian suspects, and denounced Israel’s expansion of settlements in the West Bank as one of the factors for the recent escalation.

Kerry is reportedly planning to visit the region in the hopes of stopping the violence and restarting a diplomatic dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.

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