Following instructions given by their party leadership, five Yesh Atid Knesset members retracted their acceptance of an invitation to attend a festive Ramallah meeting next week with PA president Mahmoud Abbas.
The Palestinian president had invited the members of the Knesset’s caucus for the resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict to a gathering in honor of Rosh Hashanah.
Sources in Yesh Atid, who were speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believed it was inappropriate for members of the governing coalition to bypass the official talks taking place between Israel and the Palestinians. They said the negotiating process should be allowed to happen in accordance with accepted procedure.
Seven Yesh Adit MKs are members of the caucas, and five of them had confirmed their participation in the festive meeting. The five all canceled their participation after receiving instructions to do so from party leadership.
The invitation from Abbas followed a precedent-setting meeting in the Knesset three weeks ago, initiated by MK Hilik Bar (Labor), MKs from the conflict-resolution caucus and from One Voice, a Israeli-Palestinian group founded to promote the two-state solution.
The meeting was attended by 36 lawmakers and cabinet ministers, as well as representatives of the Palestinian committee for dialogue with Israeli society, appointed by Abbas. The flags of both Israel and Palestine were placed at the Knesset for the conference.
Bar, chairman of the caucus, said on Tuesday: “I thank the chairman of the Palestinian Authority [Abbas] for his invitation. We intend to make the reciprocal visit with MKs from all parts of the political spectrum, both the coalition and the opposition, and to continue to support the negotiations now under way between Israel and the PA in the spirit of the two-state solution. Thirty-six MKs present at the meeting at the Knesset, and those who will visit Ramallah together with me, reflect the majority there is for the two-state solution in the Knesset and the public. We must translate this broad support into a peace agreement based on two states for two peoples, the only solution that will ensure that Israel will remain a Jewish and a democratic state.”