Yacimovich to Abbas: Israel, Palestinians Must Renew Peace Process Now

The opposition would throw a safety net to Netanyahu if he makes progress towards peace, Labor chairwoman says in her first meeting with Palestinian officials.

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Israeli opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday and stated her support for a two-state solution, contingent on the security of Israeli citizens.

This was the first time Yacimovich has met with a Palestinian official since elected to chair the Labor Party in 2011. Yacimovich organized the meeting covertly and excluded all her fellow Labor Party members.

It's unclear who helped Yacimovich organize the meeting with Abbas, as she kept the arrangements secret and did not update any of her party members. Upon leaving Ramallah, Yacimovich published a press release and also sent a text message to her fellow party MKs. "I just met Abbas in his office, for a face-to-face meeting," Yacimovich wrote. "Those interested in updates are welcome to contact me."

During the meeting, which lasted about an hour, Yacimovich said the Labor party is committed to the two-state solution, and noted that Israel places supreme importance on the safety of its citizens, under any arrangement. "There is a need to immediately enter negotiations, and to examine both sides' positions on all the issues," Yacimovich told Abbas. "Now is the time to reply to the U.S. government's attempts at mediating a reignition of the peace process." 

After a long period of avoiding the subject, Yacimovich has lately been working on taking a greater role in the Middle East peace process. Some weeks ago she said that non-involvement in the political process during the elections had lost Labor at least four seats in Knesset to Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah party and to Meretz.

At an event marking Jerusalem Day last week, Yacimovich said that the government would have her full support in pushing forward the political process. Labor would even join the government in that case if need be, she said.

Shelly Yacimovich delivering a speech on May 5, 2013. Behind her is a portrait of Yitzhak Rabin.Credit: Oren Nahshon
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.Credit: AP