Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, held a meeting in New York, Tuesday, with Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as the two discussed the efforts to ensure the resumption of peace talks. The two leaders are in New York for a series of meetings with senior U.S. officials in an effort to find a solution to the deadlock in peace talks.
The office of Barak described the meeting as positive, and that both leaders expressed their commitment to overcome the obstacles that obstruct talks.
Barak asked Abbas “not to miss this chance” and to advance in the peace process with Israel, yet, he did not invoke the issue of Israel’s continued construction of settlements in the occupied territories.
Responding to repeated Israeli calls on the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas said that Israel must recognize the Palestinian right to an independent state if it really wants negotiations with them.
On his side, Barak stated that Israel and the Palestinians must show responsibility for securing the future of coming generations in the region.
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that both Barak and Abbas agreed to resume security cooperation in the occupied West Bank.
It is worth mentioning that Abbas gave a speech in a closed meeting with Jewish leaders in New York, and told them that he wants the peace process to advance.
A transcript obtained by the Associated Press revealed that Abbas said that although he will not quit talks with Israel, it remains difficult for him to resume talks while Netanyahu and his government are ongoing with settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem.
Abbas still described Netanyahu as his ‘partner’ in finding a way for peace in the region, and called for making “tough decisions in order to ensure that peace eventually prevails”.
He also commended Netanyahu for stating that the Palestinians have the right to become sovereign.
Among several other factions, the Hamas movement slammed Abbas for resuming talks with Israel while it is ongoing with its settlement activities and with the attacks against the Palestinian people and their holy sites.