In Ramallah meeting, Herzog urges talks but Abbas says will approach UN


Israel’s opposition and Labour Party leader Isaac Herzog MK met yesterday with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and urged Abbas to return to the negotiating table. However, Abbas underlined his intention to turn to the United Nations (UN) for recognition.

Herzog told Abbas that, “Negotiations are the only way, and therefore, we need to make an effort to bring the sides back to that path.” Referring to the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, which he said provides an opportunity for a regional arrangement of moderate forces, Herzog commented, “Our leaders cannot miss this historic opportunity, because it may not come back,” adding, “A diplomatic agreement is necessary for both sides … peace is a primary security interest for Israel and the Palestinians.”

Abbas however dismissed the chances of diplomatic progress, saying, “There is no movement on the diplomatic front whatsoever, despite my readiness to negotiate with Israel.” Instead, he underlined his intention to push for international recognition of a Palestinian state during the coming weeks. For several weeks, PA leaders have advocated turning to the international community and particularly the UN to impose an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank to the pre-1967 borders and then approach the International Criminal Court if no progress is made. The United States has repeatedly opposed any unilateral plan which would harm the peace process between Israel and the PA.

Nonetheless, Abbas told Herzog that he would spend two days in Paris in an attempt to persuade France to recognised Palestinian statehood before travelling to New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly where he would continue to advocate the same message. The Ma’an news agency says that Abbas will ask the UN Security Council to set a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said yesterday that Abbas “does not speak on our behalf” and as far as Hamas is concerned, he is not authorised to negotiate borders with Israel.