ZIDAN KAABIYA, head of Forum of Northern Beduin Council, meets with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Saturday..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he would restart peace talks if Israel froze settlement construction, Zidan Kaabiya, head of Forum of Northern Beduin Council, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Abbas met in Ramallah with representatives of Israeli Beduin over the weekend.
Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, who is not a Beduin, was also present at the meeting with Abbas, Israel Radio reported.
Kaabiya, who met Abbas at the iftar meal breaking the daily Ramadan fast on Saturday evening, said Abbas sees Israeli Beduin as a bridge to mediate between the sides.
Abbas asked that we pass a message to President Reuven Rivlin that he is against violence and wants negotiations, said Kaabiya.
No one from the Israeli government has contacted us, continued Kaabiya, though he added that Rivlin did respond that the visit was important after being passed Abbas’s message at an iftar meal on Sunday.
“I asked him his conditions to return to talks, and he said one small thing, to stop settlement building – not to tear down anything,” Kaabiya said.
In their discussion of the peace process, Abbas mentioned that Jerusalem should be the capital for both Israel and a Palestinian state, Kaabiya added.
“I call on Israel to take advantage of the trust he placed in us and try to bridge [the differences between the parties] as much as possible,” he said.
Beduin would be ideal mediators between Israelis and Palestinians, because negotiating a tribal or clan agreement, or sulha, is part of our culture, Kaabiya asserted.
Abbas knows that some Beduin serve in the IDF, and for that reason he said the Beduin could be a bridge to peace, Kaabiya said.
Kaabiya added that he defines himself as an “Israeli Palestinian,” though not a “Zionist.”
This is the first time he was invited to meet with Abbas.
According to Kaabiya, there is a public misconception that all of the Beduin in Israel live in the Negev, but in fact there are 150,000 in northern Israel. Many Beduin are dispersed in non-Beduin Arab villages and even in Jewish communities, he said.