Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas criticized what he called “the illusion of peace for peace” during a meeting with United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, according to the PA official WAFA news agency.
“Peace will not be achieved by bypassing the Palestinians to normalize relations with Arab states. It will not be achieved in the form of the illusion of peace for peace. Rather, it will be done on the basis of international law and the Arab Peace Initiative, which say that a peace agreement is to be concluded with the Palestinians first,” Abbas said.
Abbas was alluding to statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the recent agreement to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates signaled a victory for his “peace for peace” approach. Previous treaties with Arab states, Netanyahu has said, were based on exchanging “land for peace.”
A joint statement released by the United States, Israel and the UAE on August 13 said that Israel agreed to suspend its plan to annex parts of the West Bank in exchange for a full normalization of relations.
Raab is on a brief trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which the British Foreign Office has billed as intended to push for renewed dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is visiting Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories this week to press for renewed dialogue between their governments and reinforce UK commitment to preventing annexation and pursuing a negotiated two-state solution,” the Foreign Office said in a statement Monday.
Unlike the PA, Britain has hailed the agreement with the UAE as “a much needed boost for peace in the region.”
Abbas repeated his willingness “to go to negotiations under the auspices of the International Quartet and with the participation of other countries.” He added that his Ramallah-based government was continuing to seek unity and reconciliation with other Palestinian factions, although a recent joint Fatah-Hamas rally in the West Bank saw only a few hundred participants.
In their meetings with Raab, Israeli official seemed more concerned with countering Iran. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said that he was “disappointed to see the votes of the E3 countries [Britain, France and Germany] in the Security Council on the issue of the extension of the arms embargo on Iran.”
Netanyahu, meanwhile, expressed disappointment to Raab over the UK’s opposition to the imposition of snapback sanctions on Iran.
Raab also met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday, who sounded a similar alarm. Gantz told Raab that the international community had to renew the arms embargo, according to Gantz’s office.