, Plaza Hotel - New York City

Excerpts from PA President Mahmoud Abbas:

“Peace ultimately will prevail. I consider PM Netanyahu, my partner in our quest for peace. We spent hours discussing important issues both of us have to deal with internal difficulties but I hope that we will be able to overcome them… our objectives are clear. The establishment of an independent Palestinian state that can live side-by-side with the state of Israel in peace and security on the borders of 1967 with agreed swaps. And a resolution to all the permanent status issues.”

“We can say that if we have our state with 67 borders, we are ready to put an end to the conflict, and an end to the historical demands — I think you know what that means — no historical demands neither from this side nor from that side.”

Transcript

S. Daniel Abraham: (Chairman, S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace)

This is a very special evening. We’re on the eve of what we hope will be a new era of peace in the Middle East. We’ve been hoping for it for a long time but we have to be optimistic – if we will it, if we want it, peace will come. And I think we all want it. I was at a wonderful conference today at the Clinton Global Initiative. President Clinton hosted a panel of three exceptional individuals: The Crown Prince of Bahrain, President Shimon Perez, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He asked a question. He said what we are going to talk about today is not negotiations, but how do you all envision the day after peace comes. And that is what we all have to keep our eyes on – the value and the prize of peace. The Middle East and the world will become a whole new world; we will end fighting, we will end hostility, we will end the anger, and we will start a new era of creativity and development.

I want to introduce to you now a man who did not come easy to me and did not come fast. I started the Center for Middle East Peace with Wayne Owens (Congressman from Salt Lake City, Utah) in 1989. Wayne was one of the most unique people I ever met in my life. Sadly, he tragically died on a trip to the Middle East, on a peace mission, on the shores of Tel-Aviv, on the shores of the ocean. That was eight years ago, in 2002, and it took me eight years to find a new president for the Center. You had to have big shoes, and big hopes, and work hard – know people and know how to make things happen. I finally found the man – former Congressman Robert Wexler.

Robert Wexler : (President, S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace)
Thank you very much. Danny referred to the session that President Clinton chaired earlier today and amongst many of the thoughts of wisdom that President Peres, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, and Mr. Fayyad provided to the group, I think the one that deserves repeating now was something Mr. Fayyad said at the conclusion of the meeting. Which was for him a comprehensive peace agreement represented the defeat of rejectionism and the triumph of hope. And that I believe is the driving force behind this extraordinary gentleman Daniel Abraham who has no fear in the field of philanthropy and Middle East peace. No fear at all. It’s a privilege for me to be associated with Danny and I would just like to begin the evening by describing what transpired in Washington DC at the beginning of the summer.

At the beginning of the summer, President Abbas joined Danny and the Center for a conversation with several leaders of the Jewish American community. Some of which are here again this evening. I mention it because I believe it is a rather remarkable event when a leader from the Middle East, actually, when a leader from anywhere in the world comes to the United States of America and in an unplanned, unscripted fashion – there is nothing planned about this evening except for the menu – opens himself up to questions, thoughts and comments. It is President Abbas’s insistence that tonight’s conversation be on the record because he believes that what you have to say and what he has to say should be heard by millions of people across our country and across the world. So it is with great admiration Mr. President and deep profound respect for the effort you have made in terms of engaging in a conversation, for engaging in a dialogue. And at our last meeting President Abbas heard a chorus of pleas for both the Palestinians and Israelis to enter into negotiations, and I suspect this evening you will hear a chorus of pleas to figure out a way to keep those negotiations ongoing.

President Abbas: (Palestinian Authority President)
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening, shanna tova, hag samah for all of you. I would like to thank my best friend, Daniel Abraham, who helped to convene this evening. This is a man never changed since I met him. A man who has shown optimism and determination and a strong commitment for peace in our region. I would also like to thank Congressman Wexler for his determination efforts and the rest of the staff of the center.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my second meeting with the American Jewish leaders since June of this year in Washington about these meeting. These meetings with the Jewish community are part of my effort to reach out to an important community I have in the past communities in Canada, South Africa, Latin America particularity in Argentina. I will be meeting the leaders of the French Jewish community. I have one objective in mind to communicate with you directly without mediators. I would like for us to engage in a dialogue where we listen to each other and where I can respond to your question because I trust we have one mutual objective to achieve peace. We launched in Washington beginning this month talks in Washington about permanent status sponsored by Barak Obama. During the last three weeks I have met Prime Minister Netanyahu several times in Washington and in the region. And we started a difficult mission to achieve lasting, justice, and comprehensive peace between us we should able to do this within a year. There is no allusion that this will be easy. In an essence it is exceedingly difficult but we are determined to succeed.

However, the two parties have some reasons for hope and optimism. Here are some of them. First, this peace process supported directly by President Obama. And the exceptional efforts of his secretary of state Mrs. Clinton, his special envoy Senator Mitchell and their teams. This is the embodiment of that commitment of the United States to achieve peace. Second, the negations enjoy unlimited and strong international support. The majority of the Palestinians and of the Israelis support peace and the end of the conflict. This peace process is not starting from zero there are terms of reference built on international resolutions by mutual agreements and the previous negotiations by the two sides. We understand that there are enemies of peace who will try to undermine what we are we are trying to do and the road of us is filled with difficulties and great challenges. But the objective is big one. Is there a more significant and more precious goal than achieving peace? Wouldn’t it be more inspiring if our meeting next year focused on joint Israeli Palestinian economic projects, as well as social, cultural, and environment activities. We believe that our children and grandchildren deserve a better future for peace, prosperity, dignity, and security. This is the time to make the difficult and courageous decisions. We should not allow those who oppose peace to keep us hostages in their hands.

Peace ultimately will prevail. I consider Prime Minister Netanyahu, my partner in our quest for peace. We spent hours discussing important issues both of us have to deal with internal difficulties but I hope that we will be able to overcome them. I will not discuss the details with you because I have to respect the conditions the confidentiality of the ongoing discussions but our objectives are clear. The establishment of independent Palestinian state that can live side-by-side with the state of Israel in peace and security on the borders of 1967 with agreed swaps. And a resolution to all the permanent status issues. Security will be guaranteed by a third party accepted by both to be deployed on the Palestinian side we want a just resolution for the refugees problem agreed by the two parties as stipulated by the Arab peace initiative. Ladies and gentlemen we are negotiating with open hearts and minds and we are determined to succeed in the meantime we continue our security operation with Israelis a part of our long term continued successful efforts to serve our authority and to achieve law and order in areas under our control. What occurred in Hebron and Ramallah two weeks ago and the shift response of our security forces is a model of our effective efforts, which are not, affected by the progress of negotiations the goal of maintaining law and order is in Palestinian interest. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m ready to your questions. Thank you very much.

Madeleine K. Albright: (Former Secretary of State)
First of all, Mr. President it is an honor to be with you. And Danny, thank you for hosting everybody and Robert it is great you have taken over and I am so delighted to be here. Mr. President, we have spent a lot of time together and we have all been involved in negotiations since President Clinton began the peace process from the time he was elected. But I have to say towards Camp David looking back I feel we might have made a mistake by not having there with us some moderate Arab states. And what seems to be different about this time President Obama has invited President Mubarak and King Abdullah to be apart of the talks. So, I wonder how you see their role but in a larger question how do foresee the structure of the talks without breaking your rule of confidentiality. Can you talk about those particular process issues?
President Abbas:
As you know Madeleine Albright, we started at the beginning of this month our direct talks between us and the Israeli side and under the auspices of the American Secretary of State and we agreed that we have to meet as we already met in Washington and Sharm al-Sheikh and then a week ago we met in Jerusalem with the presence of the Americans. We had some meetings with the different teams but we didn’t the lunch the teams in a practical way so we hope that if have a chance to continue our talks in the near future it would be schedule with the presence of the Americans. And as you have said, the Arab counties attended our meetings but you know that the Arab community is following everything, sponsoring every thing, and has agreed with us on all of our efforts so you can be sure that the Arab countries backing our efforts and backing our negotiations and I think that they will push us in order to achieve an agreement with Israel.
Ronald Lauder: (Chairman, Jewish National Fund)
[Paraphrased] – The question is regarding maintaining the Jewish identity of the state of Israel (You spoke about two states: Palestine and Israel. I know the key issue for many of us here is the concept of a Jewish state of the nation state of the Jewish people).
President Abbas:
There is no problem if the Israeli people or Jewish state it is up to them to do that. But I want to refer to something in the past. In 1993, after we initiated Oslo Agreement on the 21st of August 1993, we discussed mutual recognition and we concentrated on this issue for 18 days between Shimon Peres and myself on the telephone. And by the 9th of September we achieved a conclusion. We agreed to mutual recognition, which means that Arafat said and recognized Israel and the right of Israel to exist. And Rabin wrote in his response that he recognize the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians. After three years, Shimon Peres asked us to eliminate some of the article of our charter which called for the destruction of Israel. And in 1996 we convened the by consensus they voted to eliminate all these articles. After two years at Wye River, Prime Minister Netanyahu insisted that we have to repeat the elimination of these articles. Otherwise he will not accept any agreement between himself and us. At that time, Mr. Sandy Burger came to me asking why don’t you want to eliminate articles again. Why don’t you convene the PNC in Gaza and eliminate all these articles again and we will give you a prize that President Clinton will attend this session of the PNC. We accepted. President Clinton came to us and visited us, the first President, and in his presence we again eliminated these articles. When Israel concluded its peace deal with Egypt they didn’t ask for any of these demands. The same with Jordan. I’m sure the same would be with Syria, and the same would be with Lebanon. If the Israeli people want to name themselves whatever they want, they are free to do so
Roger Cohen: (Columnist, New York Times)
[Paraphrased] – It appears Prime Minister Netanyahu will not extend the moratorium. Being that you have threatened to walk out of the talks if this happens, how do you intend to react?
President Abbas:
In the beginning they told us that by the 26th the moratorium would expire. Then they said it would be by the end of this month. So I don’t know when it will expire. I will turn back to the beginning. Before we started our proximity talks, it was proximity talks – not direct talks. Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted a moratorium now we started our real negotiations, our direct negations, when we started believe there is hope to conclude a final agreement he refuses to give us 2, 3, 4 months to extend the moratorium to give an opportunity for the negotiations to handle the final status issues. Now he refuses to extend the moratorium because he has to tell them something real. We have some thing in hand. We cannot miss this opportunity. So it’s up to Mr. Netanyahu. I told him if there is no moratorium [unintelligible] by the end of this month so I don’t the terms of when they will expire. It means we will continue.

In 1995, there is an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis reading as follows: nobody is allowed to take unilateral action which prejudge the outcome of the negotiations concerning the final status issues. This is an agreement. After that we have the road map which says that Israel should cease all settlement activity including the natural growth. So, we have something to talk about. Now, we are not asking for anything to stop the settlement activity for a while to give us a chance to achieve an agreement. I cannot say I will leave the negotiations, but it’s very difficult for me to resume talks if Prime Minister Netanyahu declares that he will continue his activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Besides that you will know that we have at least 15 resolutions from the Security Council calling for Israel to cease all illegal settlement activity in Palestinian territory. So what is the problem? If we concentrate on one item, the borders, and we already offer the ’67 borders with agreed swaps and we come to this conclusion, we can immediately delineate and everyone will know and at that time Israelis will be free to be build in their territory and the Palestinians the same.

Sandy Berger: (Former National Security Advisor)
[Paraphrase] – Polling on Israeli and Palestinian sides show that 70% would accept an agreement along the parameters, yet the same polls show that 70% on both sides also do not believe that an agreement is possible. So how do you build trust? And could you envision a framework agreement that is does not address all issues but begins to build trust?
President Abbas:
Mr. Berger, I agree with you that 70%, maybe more, of the Palestinian people and 70%, maybe more, of the Israeli people are for peace, maybe the leadership on both sides are against, I don’t know, but on both sides they are eager to achieve peace as soon as possible. If you want to ask me about the core issue, I can tell you about two issues: the borders and security. I know that the Israelis are very sensitive about security. We know the Israelis want to live inside their borders, inside secure borders, they want their families to feel that they are secure, no suicide bombers, I know that they want peace and they want security. If you ask me know that in three or four years from now no single event comes from the West Bank, why? I’ll tell you it’s because we decided to cooperate with the Israeli side, and we prevent anybody from doing anything against Israel, because the security of Israel is our security. We want to engage, we want to create some sort of people to people talks, and we had some committees but unfortunately like other committees, they went away. We really want to talk to the Israeli side. For that I am talking to the Jewish leaders here, because I want peace, and I know that you want peace and you will help to achieve this peace. So, this is the issue of the security.

Besides that we told them we want a third party, and the third party will not be Indonesia, Persia, or Turkey, the third party will be America, will be NATO, to come to our territories inside Palestinian territories, to defend the Israelis and to help us, and at the same time, I told many people I would not say anything about our talk with Prime Minister Netanyahu, we accept the state of a demilitarized Palestine. As it is stipulated, and we are able to have a strong police force as defined by the American administration, not by me. So from our side there will be no threat, and there will be a third party in our territories, but if we want an independent state, I will not accept any single Israeli in our territories. And what I mean by Israeli, you know that in the Israeli army there are some Muslims and Druz and Christians, I will not accept any of them but I can accept in the third party Jewish people from outside authorities because we are not against the Jews we are against the Israeli occupation. Besides that, there will be regional cooperation, [unintelligible] and it is already, when we talked about a third party we talked with Jordan and with Egypt, General James Jones went to them with his fight and he got their acceptance because all of us want to live in peace and security and nothing else. Thank you.

Steve Savitisky: (President, Orthodox Union)
[Paraphrase] – What is your understanding of the Jewish people’s historical and religious connection to Jerusalem, and how does this reconcile with your aim of East Jerusalem becoming the future capital of Palestine and the idea that Jerusalem would be an open city to all religions?
President Abbas:
If you will return back to history or religion, we are not going to solve the problem. We have to look towards the future. But if you ask me, is there any relation between the Jews and the Middle East, I would say yes, because they have already been there as nobody can deny. So we cannot deny, but now we are talking about the future and the present time. We can say that Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967 and all the world are asking Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, and in the Road Map, President George W. Bush put in a sentence that says, we should put an end to the occupation that began in 1967. How you understand this, in every international document, or even in our agreement is to ’67 borders – we want ’67 borders, only with agreed swaps. But if you will talk about history, about religion, about our ancient rights, we will not achieve peace in the very near future. Thank you.
Dan Kurtzer: (Former US Ambassador to Israel)
[Paraphrase] – The announcement of the launch of direct negotiations was met with overwhelming pessimism, so what specifically about this process makes peace possible, and how is this time different?
President Abbas:
I think, my dear friend, that we shouldn’t listen to grandchildren commentators because they will mislead us (even the media as a whole – I am not accusing anybody) but the media as a whole will try and mislead us. We should listen to our hearts, to our minds, to our grandchildren’s demands, requirements, what they want and need – the children in Israel, the children in Palestine. If we misread their messages, we are not going to achieve a peace. We tell our people that we will be criminals on both sides if we do not reach peace for the sake, not for us – we are old men, we will make peace for the new generations, for our grandsons in the region. And I heard many times from the American Administration that if we solve this conflict, and we are ready to solve this conflict and we are ready to put an end to the historical demands, all the flairs in the region will disappear, so let us concentrate on the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Lally Weymouth: (Senior Editor, Newsweek)
[Paraphrase] – Reportedly Iran is giving Hamas $500 million per year, what is your feeling regarding Ahmadinejad’s remarks that you should not try to achieve peace with the Israelis?
President Abbas:
I don’t know exactly the amount of money Iran grants Hamas, this is the first. Second, we hear many statements from Iran and other countries saying that they want to destroy or cancel Israel. Our opinion is that a state should be created not canceled. If anybody talks about my ability or my responsibility, I will not answer but I will say to him that I am elected by the Palestinian people, so I am the only one who is eligible to talk on behalf of the Palestinian people – nobody else. Even the Arabs are humbled, when they want to talk about the Palestinian issue, they come to me and tell me they want to do something what about doing this or that, but the others try to impose something on us, which is rejected by us. Thank you very much.
Rabbi Marc Schneier: (Founder, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding)
President Abbas, I have a specific request of you. I believe it’s an appeal. I have been listening to all the Jewish leaders who are present here this evening. We the Jewish people have witnessed today, in the Diaspora, the exponential growth of anti-Semitism, particularly anti-Semitism that is emanating from the Muslim world. You mentioned before how you have been visiting countries such as France, Argentina, meeting with Jewish leaders in those respective countries. But in those countries, Mr. President, particularly in France, the Jewish community has been under attack because of this anti-Semitism that is emanating from the Muslim community. So I ask that when you go to France in addition to sharing your vision and your concern for the Israeli Palestinian peace process, that you speak out against anti-Semitism when you meet with your Muslim brothers and sisters. This sentence I have often said, that a people who fight for their own rights are only as honorable as when the fight for the rights of all people. And the Jewish community has been in the forefront in the United States, in Europe, in combating Islam-phobia. We are the ones who are speaking out against anti-Muslim discrimination. I ask that in your leadership capacity, when you visit these countries, that you speak out against anti-Semitism so that you will join other leaders in the Muslim world that are fighting for the rights of Jews as well.
President Abbas:
I promise that I will repeat what you said. And I will use the words that you used everywhere. We are against those heretics who try to say something anti-Semitic or something like that. We believe that the Jews, Christians, and Muslims are cousins. You are semite and we are semite, so why should we behave this kind of way. I believe those who talk on behalf Islam in this way represent not good Muslims. I am good Muslim. I understand exactly what it means. If I insult the Jews, I would not be a Muslim. Moses and all the prophets [unintelligible] if I do not say this I do not believe, so I will repeat your words everywhere I will go because I believe. Thank you.
Wendy Sherman: (Former Counselor of the US Department of State)
[Paraphrased] – What would you say that PM Netanyahu is doing most to help this process forward and what do you think he would said that you are doing most to help move the peace process forward?
President Abbas:
First of all I said in my speech that Prime Minister Netanyahu is my partner because he is the elected prime minister of Israel. I can tell you what I can do the day I became to be the head of the PA I started very difficult efforts to make security prevail. Why? Because security is essential for me and essential for peace. And I hope and I invite all of you to come to visit Israel and Palestine to see the life here and there. To see that they can take care of peace and prevail. And if they don’t take care of terrorism, it is damaging. Why? Because we want to live in peace in all the West Bank. Somebody may ask me about the incitement. And somebody ask me in Washington about some kind of incitement. I didn’t deny it. I didn’t deny it. But I can say there is some incitement on the other side. It doesn’t mean they have to exchange blame and accusations here and there. We want to put an end to this incitement since 11 years we agreed upon the establishing trilateral group to deal with all kinds of incitement and we are ready to get eliminate any incitement from our side decided by this community and of course the same should operate from the Israeli side. We want to live a normal life. Now Israel is existing. It wasn’t easy for Yasser Arafat in 1988 to say I accept Israel. I accept offer 2338 and the mutual recognition is signed this recognition sign that I accept Israel and Eretz Israel existing but we believe in that. And we have to follow our efforts. We also ask the Israeli community to do the same because really we are not signing for peace for one year, two year, three year, ten years, fifty years, we want permanent peace. Not only between the Palestinians and the Israelis but between the Arabs not only the Arabs but the Muslims according to the Arab peace initiative. I hope that you read the Arab Peace Initiative, which called for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. Why? All the Arab and all Muslim countries I say, all the Muslim countries – including that which is in your mind, you know it – all of them signed that they would accept [unintelligible]. Please read this initiative. It is the first time since 1948 that we have such kind of initiative, so we are not only looking for a peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, we are looking for a peace with all the Arab and all the Muslims and we are working very hard on this – I can’t talk a lot about it because I can’t go into details. But we are we are working very very hard in order to make peace prevail everywhere not only in the Middle East but from Indonesia to Mauritania. And I think it is achievable. Let us work to achieve it. Thank you.
Malcolm Hoenlein: (Executive Vice Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)
[Paraphrase] – The issue of incitement is recognized by various leaders as an imminent threat to the region. How do you see the role of incitement and what are you doing to eliminate it?
President Abbas:
First of all, I would like to say that the man who taught me and who brought for me the Arab Peace Initiative was Daniel. [Unintelligible] At that time, I took this proposal from him and I tried to publish it so he took us because he is a man of peace.

I can’t deny that some of our people make incitement. Maybe high rank. I don’t want to exchange accusations. Also to say that also an Israel Rabbi Yosef, the rabbi, the big rabbi of the Sephardics. You heard about him what he said against me personally against the Palestinians, and also another Rabbi. And we do not want to exchange accusations. We want to eliminate this. We have to work on it.

Last meeting they asked me about my book. I don’t know why you didn’t ask me again. About the Holocaust and every time somebody comes to accuse me that you deny Mr. Abbas you deny the Holocaust. Why? Because you didn’t say that the victims were 6 million. In that meeting in Washington I said okay if you say that it is 6 million than you are better than me. I accept. But you did it by look carefully. When I said that it is not a matter of number, it is a matter of innocent one man. It means that it is a crime against that human being. [Unintelligible]. Not six million, one man. One innocent man. For that I sent my Ambassador to attend the memorial of the Auschwitz, and I sent my Ambassador to Moscow to attend that meeting called by the High of Russia. We are not ashamed to do this because we believe. We believe that it was a crime against humanity. And we want these crimes not to be repeated. Not against any other victim in the world. These are crimes.

If the PM says, okay, the Palestinians have the right for sovereignty. I can’t deny it. I’m sorry I didn’t hear it. But if he said it’s okay. It’s very good. It’s encouraging. It would encourage us to go ahead to the bridge the gaps. To remove all the obstacles that are in our way. Because peace deserves all kind efforts from Prime Minister, from the Cabinet, or from Knesset, or from the High, from the Senate, from all the Palestinians people and leadership, and from the Arabs and Muslims.

Jane Eisner: (Editor, The Forward)
[Paraphrase] – President Abbas would you be willing to compromise on the right of return?
President Abbas:
Back to Oslo. Oslo was an agreement on principles. Declaration of principles. A recognition only that we have pending issues, core issues. Six core issues: Jerusalem, borders, settlements, refugees, and security. The Arab Peace Initiative came and said the following: there should be just and agreed upon solution for the peace process. I heard many statements from the Israeli media you have to remove you it. You have to remove of the refugees it from the table. Nobody has the right to remove it from the table. But everybody has the right to put it to the table and say what they what. When we say it. We have to discuss it. We have a problem. We have a problem of five million refugees, and I am one of them. Let us say that we want to solve this problem. What’s so important about this issue is that nobody can impose on the other while they are negotiating any issue. But it is important.
Joey Low: (Founder, Israel at Heart)
[Paraphrase] – How do you deal with Hamas and their rejectionist philosophy?
President Abbas:
The Palestinian people have different parties and different opinions from the right to left. Some people are communists, some people arte ultra Muslims, some people are moderate Muslims, we have this community, and we have Hamas of course. And Hamas committed the coup in Gaza, as you know. I heard some encouraging statements that they accept ’67 borders, and they are ready if Israel wants to talk to them. They will talk to Israel. But anyhow we have a problem with Hamas. Leave this problem to us. Let us focus on the final agreement between us and the Israelis and after that we will handle this issue internally. But we cannot exclude them. They are existing in the West Bank and Gaza, and by the way, they are in Jordan and Egypt, in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, in Europe and America, they are everywhere. So let this problem be solved by us internally, we will do it. But when we will sign with the Israelis we will respect our signature, and if we have a referendum and the referendum would say yes, nobody can say no, keep Hamas aside and we will solve that problem. Now we don’t have anything in the future about negotiations between us and them but we are working with the Egyptians to find something with them.
Daniel Levy: (Co-Director, Middle East Task Force)
[Paraphrase] – If Israel were to rename Israel to include the word Jewish (i.e. Jewish Republic of Israel) would you acknowledge Israel with Jewish in its name? Also, would you consider a state with provisional borders?
President Abbas:
If Israel wants to change its name, I think according to international law they can go to the United Nations and say this is our name as has happened with many countries, of course we have to accept, but a state with provisional borders this we cannot accept – we refuse it totally. This doesn’t mean that if we come to an agreement that there cannot be an incremental implementation, this is something else, but to accept a state with provisional borders is unacceptable by us. You can say it is mentioned in the Road Map but it was an option which means either you accept or not, and I would not accept. If it was not an option I would have to accept. But it is an option, which means I am free to accept it or not, and a state with provisional borders is not peace. It cannot make peace because after ten years we will return back to the conflict and we will start back from zero. We can say that if we have our state with ’67 borders, we are ready to put an end to the conflict, and an end to the historical demands – I think you know what that means – no historical demands neither from this side nor from that side. Thank you.
Alan Solow: (Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)
[Paraphrase] – What are you going to tell the Palestinian people that you learned from tonight’s encounter and that you took away from this evening?
President Abbas:
The same I took from last meeting. I told our people that there are people who are looking for peace, whether they are living in Israel or outside, but they support peace. And they were very happy because for years I used to talk about dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and in the ’70s nobody listened to me, on the contrary they accused me. But after that, gradually, everybody came to a conclusion that this is the only way that we have to talk to each other to understand each other and to know the requirements of each other to make peace. So the impression of my colleagues and Palestine in the West Bank, and the Fatah institutions and PLO institutions was very very high. And when I told them that I might be invited by our friend Daniel again they were very happy to hear that and I think they will be waiting for the results of this meeting because they count a lot on the results of such meetings. When I told you that I met with the leadership in South Africa five years ago and with Canadian Jewish Leadership and in Latin America, they were very very happy. By the way, we will make some Gaza news and some activities in the West Bank to have these mutual meetings between the Israelis and the Palestinians because we believe that this is the way to will help a lot, because we believe peace shouldn’t be between the leaders, it should be between the peoples.