He also expressed confidence that once the two sides agree on borders and security, negotiators would be able to find solutions for the other main items of dispute – a broad hint that he is ready to compromise on issues like Jerusalem and the status of more than 1 million Palestinian refugees who seek the right to return to family homes in Israel.
Even as Abbas's government stands firm on its refusal to return to peace talks without an Israeli settlement freeze, it is increasingly circumventing the negotiating table to build support for a Palestinian state.
Sunday's overture was the latest in a recent string of Palestinian leaders making personal forays into the Israeli media; Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's first one-on-one interview to an Israeli TV channel was broadcast this weekend, and recent billboards feature Palestinian negotiators with the slogan, "I am your partner."
Midway through the meal in Ramallah, visitors were given a booklet, "Meetings of President Mahmoud Abbas with Jewish leaders."
Such personal diplomacy has a powerful precedent in former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's 1977 visit to Jerusalem, which helped generate Israeli public support for territorial concessions that led to the 1979 Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt.