Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel to honor its 60th anniversary by making peace with the Palestinians.
“There are two peoples living on this beloved land. One celebrates independence and the other feels pain at the memory of its Nakba,” the Palestinian Authority president said in a televised speech Thursday, when his people marked the so-called “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding in the 1948 War of Independence.
“Sixty years have passed and we live as polar opposites,” he said.”Isn’t it time for Israel to respond to the call of a just and comprehensive peace and achieve historical reconciliation between the two peoples on this sacred and tortured land?”
U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have made little progress given outstanding disputes on borders, Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees.
President Bush, who is making a valedictory visit to Israel, has spoken of the need to create a Palestinian state along the Jewish state.
But the U.S. president appears to have backed off earlier pledges to see an accord in place before he leaves office in January.
A speech Bush delivered before the Knesset Thursday afternoon had only one reference to the Palestinians.
Sixty years from now, Bush said, “Israel will be celebrating its 120th anniversary as one of the worldâ€™s great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved, a democratic state that is governed by law, respects human rights, and rejects terror.”