|Abbas flanked by Gal-On (left), and Vilan, Oron, Horowitz. (Photo by Roy Yellin)|
On Sunday, Aug. 26, Zahava Gal-On led a Meretz party delegation (including our old friend, Avshalom Vilan) in a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Abbas in Ramallah. Abbas stated that a PA bid at the UN for “statehood” status is not meant to circumvent the need for negotiations with Israel to establish a two-state solution. This is how the Times of Israel begins its report:
The Palestinian Authority’s plan to ask the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a non-member state is not a replacement for peace talks with Israel but meant to keep alive the two-state solution, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told a group of prominent Israeli leftwing politicians on Sunday.Despite a freeze in high-level contacts between Israel and the PA, two MKs from the left-wing Meretz party met Abbas in his Ramallah headquarters. Along with Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On, the delegation included MK Nitzan Horowitz and former Meretz MKs Haim Oron, Avshalom Vilan and Mossi Raz, as well as Ilan Baruch, Gal-On’s policy adviser and a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa.“We want peaceful coexistence with Israel,” Abbas told Gal-On. “Our appeal to the UN is not a substitute for negotiations but rather a means to keep alive the option of a two-state solution.”Abbas last year applied for UN membership, but the United States made clear it would veto the move in the Security Council. However, the Palestinians, who currently have observer status at the UN, could easily secure a resolution at the General Assembly that would grant them the status of a nonmember state, similar to the Vatican. While Palestine would not have a vote in the General Assembly, it could join the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court.Gal-On, for her part, slammed the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, telling Abbas that they are no partner in peace for the Palestinians. Still, she told Abbas, there is a “large camp” in Israel “of people who believe in peace and compromise.”Gal-On said earlier she was traveling to Ramallah to discuss ways to advance the peace process and to distance herself from a controversial letter Liberman wrote to world leaders calling for Abbas’s ouster. …
IKol hakavod for this important initiative. think it is important to stress that Israel needs a resolution of her conflict with the Palestinians in order to be able to avert renewed conflict, effectively address her economic, social, and environmental problems, avoid increased isolation and criticism, and remain both a Jewish and a democratic state. Of course this will not be easy to obtain, but I believe it should be a priority, with conditions to provide security for Israel a prime consideration. Failure to obtain such a resolution will have very negative consequences for Israel, the Palestinians, the US, and, indeed, the entire world.