Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Avi Gabbay Wednesday evening to congratulate him on his election as chairman of the Labor Party.
Gabbay encouraged Abbas to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to begin building the mutual trust necessary for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a statement from the new Labor leader.
“Peace doesn’t occur in international meetings, or regional conferences. It begins with creating trust and goodwill between both parties,” Gabbay told Abbas.
The new Labor chairman recommended first focusing on smaller issues such as incitement in Palestinian textbooks, the statement said.
For his part, Abbas stressed the importance of reaching a two-state solution to the conflict that takes into account previous international resolutions and agreements, according to Palestinian media reports.
Newcomer Gabbay, a former minister in the center-right Kulanu party, was elected Monday as the new chairman of the more dovish Labor Party, beating veteran lawmaker and former leader Amir Peretz in a dramatic turn of events for the long-embattled party.
As a minister, Gabbay was not outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, traditionally a key topic for a contender of the leadership of one of Israel’s largest parties.
Gabbay has called for a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel. His vision includes land swaps that would leave the large Israeli settlement blocs in place.
On his website, Gabbay also notes the importance of improving the economic situation in the Palestinian territories and the need to curb “extremist Islamist elements” there.
“The conflict can be resolved,” he wrote, but to do so “we need brave and determined leadership that’s not engaged in spins, incitement and dividing the people.”