Abbas says Palestine has 'no choice but to deal with Netanyahu'

Right-wing Israeli parties take centre stage as hardline former prime minister returns to power

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he has long experience of dealing with Benjamin Netanyahu.  EPA
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his government would have to deal with Benjamin Netanyahu, who is poised for a sixth term as Israeli's prime minister, despite his belief that the Israelis are not interested in peace.

“I have known Netanyahu for a long time, since the 1990s. He is a man who doesn't believe in peace, but I have no other choice but to deal with him,” Mr Abbas told Palestine Television on Sunday.

The head of the Palestinian Authority, which has limited control in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said there must be a peaceful solution to the long conflict.

“I have a problem with Israel. Israel occupies my land and my country. Who is the prime minister? Netanyahu. I am forced to deal with him,” Mr Abbas said in an interview recorded on Friday that was also broadcast by Egyptian television.

Mr Netanyahu has said his efforts to reach peace deals with other Arab states could help to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Talks between the two sides stalled in 2014.

Mr Netanyahu, who was in power from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 to 2021, was asked to form a government by President Isaac Herzog on Sunday after securing victory in a general election on November 1, Israel's fifth in the past four years.

He pledged to form a “stable and responsible government”, representing all residents of Israel “without exception”.

The incoming prime minister said he would work for “peace out of strength, peace in return for peace, with additional Arab states, and thus largely to end the Israeli-Arab conflict”.

The UN voted on Friday to ask the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on Israel's continued occupation of the Palestinian territories since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Departing Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the decision may lead to “escalation”.

Updated: November 14, 2022, 7:02 AM