Meretz party head Nitzan Horowitz says that his party’s task in the government is to keep the “two-state solution” alive.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met Sunday night in Ramallah with three senior members of the Meretz party to talk of peace right after making condolence calls to parents of recently killed terrorists.
To Health Minister and party head Nitzan Horowitz, Minister of Regional Cooperation Issawi Frej and MK Michal Rosen, Abbas talked of “establishing [a] just and comprehensive peace as per international resolutions,” the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.
A Meretz statement on the meeting quoted the PA leader as saying, “We must begin to create confidence-building measures, to prove that we intend to make peace, and to enable me to protect the hope of the Palestinian people. If we lose hope, we lose the future.”
He also reportedly invited all coalition members to meet with him, specifically mentioning Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, No. 2 in Prime Minister Bennett’s Yamina party, which is the most right-wing faction in the coalition that contains both doves and hawks on the Palestinian conflict.
“You don’t have to agree, you have to talk,” the PA president said.
Shaked flatly turned down Abbas’ offer, tweeting, “It’s not going to happen. I won’t meet a Holocaust denier who is suing IDF soldiers in the Hague and paying murderers of Jews.”
Shaked was referring to the case the Palestinians are pushing in the International Criminal Court against Israel for alleged war crimes, and the PA law that mandates paying high salaries to terrorists in jail for attempted or actual deadly attacks against Israelis.
Abbas may have negated his plea for peace and hope in prefacing the meeting by personally conveying his sympathies to the father of a female terrorist who was shot down by policemen as she attempted to stab them in the Old City ten days ago.
He also phoned the father of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist who was killed Thursday by IDF troops near Jenin after he opened fire at them.
It is unclear if the Meretz members knew of the phone calls, but what was clear was the deep importance they lent to this trip to Ramallah. The party “has a task within the government: to keep the two-state solution alive and not let it disappear… because there is no other solution,” Horowitz said in a statement after the meeting.
Meretz openly backs several of the demands Abbas outlined during their discussion. This includes “ending the occupation,” stopping settlement construction and ceasing the demolition of terrorists’ homes, which the IDF considers a deterrent to future attacks.
Rosin said that she and her colleagues had come “with pride” to the PA capital, to promote cooperation “to make the present better,“ and to tell the Palestinians “You are our partner.”
Meretz has an uphill road to climb as long as Bennett is prime minister, which is to last until August 2023 under his power-sharing agreement with the more leftist Yair Lapid. He has made it clear that he would not meet with Abbas, and is on record as being completely opposed to a sovereign Palestinian state. However, he did approve Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s meeting with Abbas in August. Gantz, head of the self-proclaimed centrist Blue and White party, reportedly told the PA leader that he did believe in the “two-state solution.” This forced Bennett to declare that there would be no negotiations on the subject during his term in office.