Israelis and Palestinians “can achieve a lasting peace,” Mahmoud Abbas wrote in an op-ed.
The Palestinian Authority president repeated familiar themes in his piece, published Sept. 19 in The Wall Street Journal.. Abbas said he would reject any peace agreement that did not include all of the West Bank and Gaza; rejected physically dividing Jerusalem but said it could serve as the capital of both a Palestinian and Israeli state; and criticized Israel for continued expansion of settlements.
“I continue to believe that we can achieve a lasting peace, with the Israeli and Palestinian peoples living as neighbors in two independent states,” Abbas wrote. “But if we do not succeed, and succeed soon, the parameters of the debate are apt to shift dramatically.”
Abbas acknowledged the difficulties faced by Israel.
“No Israeli child should go to sleep at night in fear,” he wrote. “The irony is that although Israel possesses the strongest military in the region, its might cannot guarantee security for its people. The lesson of the last 15 years is that only a just peace can bring true security to Israel and Palestine.”
The article appears on the eve of Abbas’ arrival in the United States for the United Nations General Assembly. The Palestinian leader is scheduled to meet with George Bush at the White House on Sept. 25.
“We are impatient for our freedom,” Abbas wrote. “Yet partial peace, as proposed again by my current interlocutors, is not the way forward. Partial freedom is a contradiction in terms. Either a Palestinian lives free or continues to live under the yoke of Israeli military occupation.”
Meanwhile, Abbas’ top adviser, Rafik Husseni, told the Sunday Telegraph that if a peace agreement is not reached during the current peace negotiations, before U.S. President George Bush steps down and before early Knesset elections, if they are necessary, that Palestinians could decide to disband the Palestinian Authority, resulting in new violence.