Israel’s president to American UN envoy Samantha Power: Tell Abbas direct talks are urgent

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (UN), to send a message to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: Direct talks are the only way to end their conflict.

Power, making her first visit to Israel as UN envoy, arrived on Saturday. Her four days in the area will include visits with Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders; she met on her first day with Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

“Power will discuss a range of regional and bilateral issues, including the United States and Israel’s shared security concerns and close cooperation,‎ prospects for a two-state solution, and the importance of UN humanitarian and peacekeeping operations in the region” during meetings with Israeli officials, the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

On Monday, Power met separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rivlin.

Rivlin called Power “a bridge between very decisive voices in the world, and we welcome you as one who can bridge gaps and as a real friend.”

He also said: “I know that you are meeting the Palestinians, and I would ask to transfer once again a message to President Abbas, that he must understand the conflict between us – the tragedy between us – can only be solved through direct negotiations. No solution can be imposed on either side, and we must negotiate to come to an understanding.”

Netanyahu told Power there is a direct connection between Palestinian incitement in schools and the media and the latest wave of terrorism and violence, and called on the international community to demand that the PA stop the incitement, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

During a speech to Israeli high school students later Monday, Power criticized the United Nations for its disproportionate criticism of Israel.

“Bias has extended well beyond Israel as a country, Israel as an idea,” she said.

She also spoke in support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said she hoped to see an official state of Palestine at the United Nations during her tenure.

On Sunday, Power visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

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