Opposition leader Isaac Herzog met Tuesday in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and told him that every effort must be made to stop the escalation of violence in the territories and prevent a third intifada. Herzog also emphasized at the meeting that if serious negotiations are resumed between Israel and the Palestinians, a peace agreement could be reached within two years.
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The private meeting between Herzog and Abbas, which lasted for an hour and 15 minutes, was the first of its kind since the recent Knesset election. The meeting was initiated by the Palestinian president, apparently in light of the reports of negotiations between Israel and Hamas for a long-term cease-fire in Gaza.
A considerable part of the meeting between Herzog and Abbas dealt with the security escalation on the West Bank in recent weeks – the murder of the family in the village of Duma by Jewish terrorists, and an increase in attacks against soldiers and settlers by Palestinian terrorists. “The terror of recent days is liable to lead to a third intifada, and that must be prevented with everything at our disposal,” said Herzog after the meeting. “That means an uncompromising war against terror, and on this subject I’m even more extreme than [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”
Herzog said that Abbas told him during the meeting that Israel must make every effort to catch the Jewish terrorists who perpetrated the terror attack in Duma.
The two also discussed the diplomatic stagnation between the sides and ways to advance the peace process. Herzog said after the meeting that the government in Jerusalem and the Palestinian leadership must take courageous steps that will lead to a resumption of the negotiations.
“I’m convinced that if there’s good will, we can reach an agreement that will protect Israeli security for a period of two years,” the Zionist Union leader said. “There is a rare regional opportunity that has arisen in recent months, and which we must not miss, that enables support from neighboring countries for a direct diplomatic move between us and the Palestinians. I explained to Abu Mazen [Abbas] that I will continue to try and convince the Israeli public, which is gradually losing its faith, of the necessity of the process and the need to advance it quickly.”