(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Tuesday at the Herzliya conference that the Palestinians were not given their rights by Israel, and that for a Palestinian state to be established, acceptance of the two-state solution must be widespread.
There will never be peace unless the idea that the Palestinians must have their own state is fully accepted, he said.
Sitting alongside Defense Minister Ehud Barak in a discussion devoted to the diplomatic process, Fayyad said that too much time was devoted to subjects outside the main issue. The PA prime minister also hinted that he was expecting more gestures from Israel, and said that negotiations had not been fruitful in the past 16 years. He said the world must understand that “the occupation will retreat,” adding that the Palestinians “want to live alongside [Israel] in peace, security and wealth.”
Fayyad clarified that in any permanent deal, Israel would have to evacuate settlements. “The Palestinian state needs to rise in areas where today there are settlements. One of the central ways to advance towards implementing the Road Map is by Israel no longer penetrating territories intended to be part of our state,” he said.
Fayyad also said “east Jerusalem is an integral part of the future Palestinian state.”
When Barak raised the issue of Hamas’s control of the Gaza Strip, Fayyad said the Palestinian state must be unified and the separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must come to an end. But Fayyad also criticized Israel for the blockade of the Strip, calling the blockade “a mistake that must come to an end… a continuation of the siege will not bring a positive outcome.”
Speaking before Fayyad, Barak said that when he was prime minister, he told former PA leader Yasser Arafat as well as PA President Mahmoud Abbas that “the toughest choices are made in front of your own people.”
“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu will also have to make decisions with our public. The decisions are hard. There is a silent majority for peace in Israel, despite the fact that in elections they vote right-wing.”
Barak praised Fayyad for a “change in the Palestinian side.” He said Fayyad brought with him “pragmatic and concrete thinking of building the economy, institutions and more, as well as a demand to recognize the results of these changes. I am a great believer in cooperation and extending your hand out when you can… even the settlers say security conditions are better than they ever were, and it is thanks to the work of both sides.”
While he called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table,
he said Hamas’s control of Gaza cannot go on. Barak stressed that any
agreement must include solid security arrangements. “Instead of
foreplay, we must go in the room and talk,” he said.
position of our government is clear. It adopted the road map and
accepted the two-state solution… our goal is to end the conflict and
establish a Palestinian state,” Barak said, but added, “the reality of
am agreement, today, seems a distant one.”
While the discussion did not take the form of a dialogue, with Barak speaking before Fayyad, the two shook hands after the panel.