Opposition MK to international colleagues: Palestinians must seize the opportunity to negotiate

Nachman Shai says Abbas has been given many chances to return to talks.

MK Nachman Shai.
The Palestinians must finally seize the opportunity to negotiate with Israel, MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) said in a speech at the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Assembly in Geneva Tuesday.
Shai, the leader of the Knesset delegation to the assembly, paraphrased former minister and diplomat Abba Eban, who famously said: “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
“As usual, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Even here, when we gathered to speak about water and technology, they chose to attack Israel with twisted, baseless accusations,” Shai said.
The Zionist Union MK’s statements came after the Palestinian representative to the IPU, Muhammad Al-Ahmad said Israel is responsible for the freeze in negotiations, harms holy sites and builds settlements.
Shai responded that even as a member of the opposition he thinks Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is the one who needs to give Israel a positive answer, having been given many chances, including recently, to enter talks with Israel.
“The opposition will act at home to convince the government, but we can’t do that without Abbas and the Palestinians, our partners,” he stated.
Al-Ahmad also mentioned the recent UNESCO resolution, which called the Temple Mount only by its Muslim name, ignoring that it is a holy site for Jews and Christians.
Shai condemned the decision, saying it is “ridiculous and absurd,” and that “Jewish history and human history cannot be rewritten, not even in the UN.”
The MK missed the opportunity to use another Eban quote in relation to the UNESCO decision: “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.”
The IPU was founded in 1889 to promote parliamentary dialogue and work for the establishment of representative democracy.
It works in close cooperation with the United Nations and is primarily funded by its members from public funds.
During this week’s assembly, the other Knesset representative to the IPU, MK Sharren Haskel (Likud) was elected the Europe-area representative to the Forum of Young Parliamentarians.
“We need to lead young people to political activity, involvement and transparency,” Haskel, said following her victory.
Shai called Haskel’s victory “a great achievement for Israel in the international arena, which is not usually friendly to us.
“The message we are bringing to the organization is one of democracy, civic cooperation, technology and protecting human rights for all,” Shai stated.
Haskel won 33-22 against an Italian representative vying for the same slot.
In recent weeks, the Foreign Ministry and Knesset Foreign Affairs Department worked to convince parliamentarians from other countries to vote for Haskel.
Haskel, 32, was the youngest legislator at an IPU assembly in Zambia earlier this year.