Abbas: It Is on Our Shoulders to Halt the Violence

Palestinian president sends conciliatory message to Meretz conference in Jerusalem, expressing desire to 'strengthen our relations with the forces of peace.'

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas gesturing as he speaks during a Christmas lunch with members of the Christian Orthodox community on January 6, 2016 in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent a conciliatory message to the convention of Israel's left wing Meretz party being held Thursday evening in Jerusalem.

"We are eager to strengthen our relations with the forces of peace in Israel, during a period in which the influence of extremist forces against peace is rising," Abbas said in a recorded message to conference participants.

"The peace that our people call for is a permanent peace based on justice and accepting the other, and shirking violence and terror in all its forms. We all stand together. A great responsibility is on our shoulders to halt the descent into violence."

The Palestinian president asserted: "The first step toward success depends on Israel implementing the signed agreements and changing the climate that grips this region before a real renewal of serious negotiations between the sides that will give our people hope for the future."

Abbas added: "Despair and frustration are the most intransigent enemies of peace. Our people suffered much and were caused a great injustice because of the ongoing occupation. Therefore, the time has come to put an end to the cursed occupation. With its end we will put an end to the suffering of the people in the region and the world."

About 1,000 people were expected to participate in the Meretz conference at the Cinematheque in Jerusalem to discuss the escalation of the security situation and the possibility of pushing for a renewal of diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"The conference, which is meeting for the first time in its history in Jerusalem, is intended to identify with city residents in all its neighborhoods during a period of violence and fear," explained conference chairman Uri Zaki.

"We know that only the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel will truly guarantee the security of Israel. Abu Mazen's appeal to members of the Meretz conference proves that there is a partner for such an agreement. Not reciprocating his reaching out is a grave abandonment of Israel's security."

 Meretz chairperson Zehava Galon was expected to open the conference.

"Netanyahu may have said we need to avoid as much as possible a collapse of the Palestinian Authority, but due to pressure from some cabinet ministers, he avoids taking steps to preempt the collapse," she said.

"Indeed, he knows that the collapse of the PA is a terrible danger that would beget total chaos in the territories. Armed militias of Islamists and Jihadists would replace the PA. It is happening because we have an irresponsible prime minster with no strategic thinking and no initiative or bravery to change the political reality, who is ready to trash the dream of our state in order to pander to the extreme right and for his own political survival."