JERUSALEM – The Palestinians on Thursday spurned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's latest invitation to resume peace talks, insisting the Israelis freeze settlement construction first.
Netanyahu on Wednesday proposed to start direct talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, without any preconditions. The call followed an appeal from international mediators.
Negotiations broke down in late 2010 over the issue of settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas claimed by the Palestinians as parts of their future state.
Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, said Thursday that Abbas is ready for talks only if Israel halts settlement construction and accepts its 1967 boundaries as the basis for negotiations. Otherwise, he says, any negotiations will "waste time."
Netanyahu has repeatedly refused to halt settlement construction as a precondition to talks.
Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza, territories claimed by the Palestinians, in 1967.
Israel and the Palestinians launched a low-level dialogue early this year, but failed to find a formula to resume formal peace talks.
Netanyahu is set to meet Abbas' prime minister, Salam Fayyad, on Tuesday.
Fayyad is expected to present a letter with the Palestinian conditions for resuming talks. Officials have said they do not expect any breakthroughs.