Fayyad: Palestinian statehood must be accepted

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Palestinians need to see that "the occupation is on its way to being rolled back," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said.

Fayyad spoke Tuesday at the high-profile Herzliya Conference, despite receiving death threats. He appeared at the conference with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

"I do not believe that there can be permanent peace unless the concept of Palestinian statehood is accepted," Fayyad said, calling for "negotiations based on settled principles."

Fayyad pointed out that the Palestinians are preparing for statehood by strengthening government institutions.

He called for a halt to all building in jewish settlements.

"If settlements continue, the political question is how confident can we be that once relaunched, the political process will be able to deliver on permanent status issues," Fayyad said.

Barak invoked apartheid in explaining why a Palestinian state must be created.

"If the Palestinians living in the West Bank could, in the future, vote in the Israeli elections, Israel will become a binational country," he said. "But if they are not allowed to vote, we will become an apartheid country."

Barak reiterated that Israel has accepted a two-state solution. He said that reaching a final status agreement could take three years, "but it is time to enter negotiations and stop playing games."
 

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