Labor Party's Herzog Urges Abbas Not to Take Unilateral Steps

Israeli opposition leader hears out PA president's frustrations with Netanyahu ahead of Palestinian's participation in UN General Assembly.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Isaac Herzog
Isaac HerzogCredit: Olivier Fitoussi
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Isaac Herzog, head of the Knesset opposition, called on the Palestinian Authority not to take any unilateral steps despite a lack of diplomatic progress toward statehood, during a meeting with with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah's Muqata compound on Wednesday.

Abbas is due to depart for the United Nations General Assembly, where he intends to lay out his plan for statehood.

Herzog remarked that Abbas had made it clear to him that he would demand that the UN Security Council recognize the principle basing the borders of a future Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with minor changes. Herzog added that Abbas vented great frustration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies.

"There is no movement on the diplomatic front whatsoever, despite my readiness to negotiate with Israel," Abbas told Herzog.

During the meeting, Herzog told Abbas that he opposes any unilateral steps, and that he and the Labor Party believe in direct negotiations between the sides. Herzog asked Abbas to avoid such steps.

"The only way is negotiations between the sides, and therefore we need to make an effort to return the sides to this track," he stressed.

Herzog surmised after the meeting that Abbas would not push through a vote in the Security Council or the General Assembly in the coming weeks, but would instead wait until after the U.S. Congressional elections in November. The Palestinians hope that the electoral results could create political conditions that would allow the U.S. not to veto the resolution they would submit to the UN Security Council.

Herzog added that in light of the new regional alliances Netanyahu and Abbas must not miss a historical opportunity that is doubtful to return.

"A diplomatic arrangement is vital to both sides, and we need to base it on the Arab Peace Initiative," said Herzog, referring to the initiative adopted by the Arab League in 2002. "It is a security interest of the first order for both the Israeli side as well as the Palestinian side."

Abbas is scheduled to depart Wednesday night for Paris to meet with French President Francois Hollande. From Paris, he will continue on to New York to participate in the UN General Assembly. Abbas is expected to meet with, among other dignitaries, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and to discuss with him the Palestinians' diplomatic plan.

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