Editorial

Listen to Mahmoud Abbas

Netanyahu knows that the moderates on both sides want peace and that they understand there is no solution other than the two-state solution

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a joint press conference with the U.S. president in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a joint press conference with the U.S. president in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. MANDEL NGAN/AFP

“There’s no stronger voice than the voice of a just and comprehensive peace, just as there is no stronger voice than that of the right of people to self-determination and freedom from the yoke of occupation. The time has come to live, you and us, in peace, harmony, security and stability.

“The only way to end the dispute and the struggle against terror in the region and in the world is the two-state solution based on the June 1967 lines, Palestine alongside Israel. We have accepted the UN resolutions; we have recognized the State of Israel and agreed to the two-state solution, and the world has also recognized the Palestinian state. The time has come for the State of Israel to recognize our state and end the occupation. We are still extending our hand in peace.”

This was the message that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered to the Israeli public at the demonstration Saturday night in Tel Aviv organized by Peace Now to mark 50 years of the occupation and call for implementing the two-state solution. These are remarks that cannot be ignored; in the clearest, sharpest and most precise terms, they express not only the Palestinian people’s desire for peace, but that of every peace-seeking Israeli citizen who wants to live in a normal country.

Although the demonstrators were identified with the left side of Israel’s political map, support for the two-state solution is considerably broader than that, with people on the right also supporting it. That, at least, is what emerges from a survey released Friday by Channel 2 News. Half of those questioned said they support a peace agreement based on a two-state solution along the 1967 lines.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed all along that he seeks an agreement with the Palestinians. During the visit by U.S. President Donald Trump, he even said, “For the first time in my lifetime I see a real hope for change.”

If this is really the case, Netanyahu cannot ignore Abbas’ important statement. He must initiate a meeting with the Palestinian president and stop setting preconditions for negotiations that are meant to scuttle them, whether it’s the old demand of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state or the new demand to stop the PA’s payments to the families of terrorists.

Netanyahu knows that the moderates on both sides want peace and that they understand there is no solution other than the two-state solution. Given the latest remarks by Abbas, every Israeli must ask himself why, rather than extending our hand in return to the moderate Palestinian in an effort to put an end to 50 years of controlling another people, Netanyahu and his government prefer to continue the policy of refusal, whose price continues to soar.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.