PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s plea on Channel 2 Friday for Israel to accept a
two-state solution along the pre- 1967 lines was lauded by his counterpart,
Shimon Peres, and rejected by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday
Peres praised Abbas’s courage, saying he had proved both in word
and deed that Israel did have a genuine negotiating partner.
[Abbas] has condemned terror and has pledged that under his leadership there
will not be a third intifada. He understands very well that the solution to the
Palestinian refugee problem cannot be within Israeli territory, in order not to
change the demographic character of Israel.
“But he has put out a hand to
Israel to renew the peace process,” Peres said.
He continued that Abbas’s
plea on TV was a matter of great significance, and that the desire for peace and
a two-state solution also had a broad consensus behind it in Israel.
But the Prime Minister’s Office said that the only meaningful gesture Abbas
could make would be to sit down and negotiate without preconditions.
the past, Netanyahu has resisted all attempts by Abbas to pre-determine the
outcome of such talks.
The prime minister has refused to accept a
two-state solution on the pre-1967 lines. He has insisted that Jerusalem remain
Israel’s united capital and that a final-status agreement should take into
account settlement blocs.
Netanyahu has argued that the issue of borders
should not be predetermined, and that this is one of the subjects to be
In Paris on Wednesday, he issued a public call at a press
conference for Abbas to renew the negotiations.
On Saturday night,
Netanyahu’s office said, “The prime minister’s proposal to meet with Abu Mazen
without any preconditions whatsoever still stands.
“In relation to what
Abu Mazen said [on Channel 2], there is no connection between his words and his
“Abu Mazen refuses for four years now to renew the negotiations
with Israel, and this despite a whole series of steps that Prime Minister
Netanyahu has taken to allow for the resumption of talks, including the
unprecedented settlement freeze [of housing starts for 10 months that ended in
September 2010] in Judea and Samaria,” it said.
The office also said that
Abbas had refused to discuss necessary security arrangements with Israel to
protect Israeli citizens.
On Friday night, Abbas said that his demands,
such as a freeze on settlement building and Jewish construction in east
Jerusalem, was not a precondition.
“When we talk about the settlements,
the construction is illegal, it’s not a precondition,” he said.
15 Security Council decisions that say this. In spite of this, what I am saying
is, stop the building until we get to an understanding.
refuses this,” Abbas said.
He said that he had given Netanyahu two
proposals on borders and security that he had negotiated with then-prime
minister Ehud Olmert, but Netanyahu would not look at them.
reporter Udi Segal, who conducted Friday’s interview, countered this statement
by asking: “If a prime minister from Israel would put to you on this table, the
proposal that Olmert gave you, would you sign it today?” Abbas responded by
explaining that an agreement had not been reached with Olmert. But, he said, if
a document was placed in front of him that contained the understanding reached
between him and Olmert, then “I’m willing to sit and negotiate
Segal asked, “But you want to start the negotiation from that
point, or this is the end?” Abbas responded, “No, from that point.”
said, “So everything he gave you is okay, but now you want more?” Abbas
answered, “We want to complete our negotiations, to bridge the gap on the issues
on which we did not have an understanding. Concerning security there was full
understanding, about the territories, we exchanged [ideas] and maps, but we did
not conclude it,” he said.
Abbas said that was needed to restart the
negotiations was for Netanyahu to accept a two-state solution on the ’67
“Can he do it now? And tomorrow I will go and sit with him,” Abbas
He explained that the PA was going to the United Nations this month
to ask to upgrade its status to that of a non-member state.
“It does not
mean that we are looking or seeking an independent Palestinian state, because we
will be under occupation,” Abbas said.
Segal charged that the move was an
attempt to unilaterally seek statehood.
Abbas countered, “If we are
talking about unilateralism, I think settlement activity is unilateral. This is
an occupied territory, you do not have a right to send any of your citizens to
Segal countered that there was a report by former Supreme
Court justice Edmund Levy that said the West Bank was not occupied
“It is occupied territories. You can not define things as you
like,” Abbas said.
Segal asked him if there was a possibility that a
third intifada would break out.
Abbas answered, “No. As long as I am here
in this office, there will be no third armed intifada. Never. We do not want to
use force. We do not want to use terror.”
He also said there was no
justification for Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel.
him if he wanted to go to Safed, the city in the Galilee where he was
“Of course, I want to see it. It’s my right to see it, but not to
live there,” Abbas said.
Segal asked, “Is it [Safed] Palestine for you?”
Abbas answered. “Palestine, now, for me is ’67 borders with east Jerusalem as
its capital. This is now and forever. This is Palestine for me. I am refuge, but
I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza are
Palestine and the other part is Israel.”