Tel Aviv – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent a direct message to the Israeli people and leadership, voicing his commitment to and desire for real peace.
He made his call before some 20,000 Israelis who were rallying in support of a Palestinian state ahead of the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.
Banners bearing the slogan “Two states, One Hope” featured in the demonstration organized by supporters of a Palestinian state, including the Israeli NGO Peace Now.
NGO head Avi Buskila said the rally was a protest against “the lack of hope being offered by a government perpetuating occupation, violence and racism”.
Abbas’ message was met with applause from the crowd as he declared: “It is time to live together in harmony, security and stability.”
“Our duty towards future generations is to conclude a peace of the brave.”
Israeli opposition Labor party leader Isaac Herzog attended the rally and threw his support behind a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He was met with boos from the crowd as he rose to the podium to deliver a speech for attempting to form a coalition with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He said: “The current Israeli leadership acts out of fear first. It fears change, boldness, initiative and hope.”
In 1967, Israel seized the West Bank and east Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six-Day War with neighboring states.
It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
Israel proclaims Jerusalem as its united capital, while the Palestinians claim the city’s eastern part as the capital of their future state.
More than 400,000 Israelis live in settlements on the West Bank which are considered illegal under international law and a major obstacle to Middle East peace.
Netanyahu’s government is widely seen as the most right-wing administration in Israeli history and is pressing settlement expansion despite international concern.
Some government members have openly advocated annexing the West Bank.