Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas commented on statements made by Shimon Peres regarding the Israeli public support of the two-state solution and said, "We don't want to intervene in Israel's internal affairs but it's important there is a partner that believes in peace (in Israel)."
Abass stressed he is not interested in delegitimizing Israel but rather the occupation. "We want to live as a state alongside Israel which we've already recognized."
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The Palestinian president did not directly address Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any other Israeli leader but expressed hinted criticism of claims made against him by Israel's rightist parties.
"We are disciples of peace. We were abandoned in 1948 and since then the Israeli leadership thought the Palestinian people have evaporated but the issue has not been resolved. All of the Palestinian people in exile cling to Palestine and the establishment of an independent state on the 1967 borders."
Abbas stressed that the Palestinian Authority under his leadership will not resort to violence. "We bear no arms but the Israelis are worried that we use political terror. Our weapon is our right and legitimacy which have been under attack.
Peres and Abbas (Archive photo: Jose Marquez)
"If Israel agrees to withdraw from the Palestinian and Arab lands then the Arab and Islamic states will be willing to hold diplomatic relations in accordance with the Arab peace initiative. That is our proposal to the Israeli leaders – to live in peace with the region's nations."
The Palestinian president slammed settlement construction and said it isolates Jerusalem and divides the West Bank into two. "We will not accept it. We shall turn to the international community and the UN's Security Council to try to stop it."
Earlier Sunday, Peres said at the Foreign Ministry's annual conference: "There is a clear majority for the principle of two-states for two peoples," complimenting Abbas as being "the only Arab leader who publically stands up and says that he is for peace and against terror."
The president's remarks stirred heated debate among Israeli politicians.
Commenting on Peres' announcement, MK Gilad Erdan of the Likud issued a statement, declaring: "It is unfortunate that the president chose to present a political stance that encourages the condemnation of Israel by the international community."
In response to the Likud's statement, Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovh said: "The Likud's attack of the president… is aggressive and despicable."
Yachimovich added that "Saying that Peres was encouraging the condemnation of Israel in the world is appalling. Peres is responsible for thwarting attacks on Israel and is its best ambassador."
Hatnua Chairwoman Tzipi Livni also backed the president's remarks, saying that "President Peres acted responsibly in telling the public the truth about Israel's status. The truth is that Israel is already an isolated country, and with no diplomatic progress it only becomes more isolated."
Peres and Labor's Yachimovich (Photo: Mark Neiman, GPO)
Livni added that the "The Israeli public must understand the state we're in – diplomatic isolation damages the security of the State of Israel."
Referring to the Likud's response to the remarks, she said, "This method, by which the Likud and Benjamin Netanyahu silence everyone who tries to change Israel's circumstances, must stop."
Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid joined the censure of the Likud, saying that "The government's disregard of Israel's deteriorating diplomatic circumstances only means that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue in the next generations. There is no other solution other than two-states for two peoples."
Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz protested the Likud's criticism of the president as well, noting that "The Likud-Beiteinu is leading Israel toward a third intifada or a forced settlement that goes against Israeli interests. Israel must go back to a diplomatic process and create its own future."
Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On said, "Netanyahu is attacking the presidency and the president himself so as to bring back the votes that he lost to Naftali Bennett."
Former President Yitzhak Navon also came to Peres' defense. "I don't understand the uproar. Peres is basically expressing Mr. Netanyahu's views. He voiced the need for two states for two peoples. That's something Netanyahu spoke about. Mr. Netanyahu expressed the right sentiment, he just didn't act on it. Thank God there is someone like Peres," Navon said.
Moran Azulay and Yuval Karni contributed to report
Azulay and Karni are Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondents
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