Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas revealed on Monday that he recently met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jordan and discussed with him the future of relations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Abbas made the revelation during a meeting in his office in Ramallah with a group of Israeli intellectuals and academics. He said that the meeting took place on August 24, but did not give further details.
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Writer Sefi Rachlevsky, who was among the group that met with Abbas, told The Jerusalem Post
that he and his colleagues came to Ramallah to express their full support for the PA's plan to ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines later this month.
"We warmly support the declaration of a Palestinian state," Rachlevsky said. "This is the realization of the Zionist dream when a people declare their independence."
He added that the group of Israelis have called on the international community and US President Barack Obama to support the statehood bid. Rachlevsky also voiced support for the idea of land swaps between the future Palestinian state and Israel.
He said that as far as he and his friends were concerned, the West Bank and the Western Wall are under occupation and should be placed under Palestinian control. "When there's a Palestinian state, Israel can always demand that certain parts of the West Bank and the Western Wall be placed under Israeli control," Rachlevsky explained.
He and other members of the group, including historian Yehuda Bauer, former Labor MK Yael Dan, author Yoram Kaniuk and Alon Liel, former director general of the Foreign Ministry, said they were deeply impressed by the "extremely moderate" views expressed by Abbas during the meeting.
"We even think that he's too moderate," he told the Post. "He wants a state only on 22% of Palestine. He is really a very moderate leader. We felt much closer to him than the Israeli government although we are very Zionist and some of us had fought in the War of Independence in 1948."
Another member of the group quoted Abbas as saying that when a Palestinian state is established, peace will prevail in the region. "He explained to us why the Palestinians were going to the UN later this month," the member told the Post. "Abbas denied that the statehood plan was intended to delegitimize Israel. He said that the goal was to legitimize the Palestinian issue."
Abbas was also quoted as saying that as long as he's in power he would see to it that security coordination between Israel and the PA would continue. Abbas also told the group that Hamas was part of the Palestinian people and that he would pursue efforts to achieve unity among the Palestinians.
Abbas said that the Palestinian state would be democratic and free "with equality between men and women."
Abbas's office said that the PA president made it clear during the 90-minute meeting that the PA was going to the UN so that the Palestinians could enjoy freedom and independence.