The leader of Israel’s opposition Labor party, Avi Gabbay, expressed strong support for a two-state solution with the Palestinians on Wednesday after his recent comments on settlements drew controversy.
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Gabbay said: “I believe in a solution of two states for two peoples.”
“I think it’s the only solution. I don’t know another solution. I believe we need to start negotiating.”
He added that any resolution with the Palestinians must also involve regional countries.
Last month, Gabbay appeared to shift to the right by saying that Israeli settlements could be retained in a future peace deal with the Palestinians, statements that were criticized by some of members of his traditionally dovish party.
“If you make a peace agreement you can find solutions that don’t oblige you to dismantle (settlements),” he said.
Leaders from Israel’s Labor party negotiated the 1990s Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians which envisioned a two-state solution.
On Wednesday, Israel held a state memorial for the 22nd anniversary of the November 4, 1995 assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who won the Nobel peace prize for his role in negotiating the accords.
Many analysts saw Gabbay’s comments on settlements as an attempt to appeal to an Israeli public that has undergone a rightward shift.
Gabbay was elected head of the Labor party in July after having joined it only months before.
The former businessman is unlike many past leaders of Labor, which once dominated the country’s politics but whose influence has waned in recent years.