Jerusalem, Feb. 20 – The Palestinians are unwilling to end the conflict with Israel, as demonstrated by their actions in the most recent peace talks, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said on Monday.
Speaking at a press briefing organized by The Israel Project, Meridor referred to a report in the Ha’aretz newspaper that outlines Palestinian stalling tactics at recent negotiations.
Meridor said the closer Israel got to outlining a two-state solution based on 1967 lines with some land swaps and agreeing to what the Palestinians said they wanted, “the more they ran away from the solution into the warm hands of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party is in talks to establish a national unity government with Iran-backed Hamas, which controls Gaza, rejects peace with Israel and has vowed to continue armed conflict until Israel is destroyed.
Meridor urged the Palestinians to restart the deadlocked peace negotiations. But he said Fatah’s attempted reconciliation with Hamas, recognized in the West as a major terrorist organization, makes it appear that the Palestinians are unwilling to reach a peace deal.
Abbas needs to make the decision to negotiate on the elements that Israel and the International Quartet have offered, Meridor said. The Middle East Quartet (Russia, the United Nations, United States and European Union) has been trying to keep Israel and the Palestinians engaged and proposed a framework for renewed negotiations.
“It’s a question of (Palestinian) leadership. Let them put us to the test. Let them say they’ll come and see how these offers will develop in negotiations,” Meridor said. “If they prefer to … continue negotiating with (Hamas leader) Khaled Mashaal then they chose a different course. I’m afraid it’s not a good one.”
“This (peace offer) is something that was on the table, is on the table, and unfortunately the Palestinianleadership does not pick it up and negotiate it. I think it’s a big mistake,” he said. “For us and for them it’s not a good decision. We can’t do it alone. We need them for this. If they don’t come, we will not be able to conclude an agreement.”