President Mahmoud Abbas told Indonesian journalists during his visit to their nation of his willingness to accept the idea of Israel and to work toward creation of two states. In effect, he agreed Israel exists and that Palestinians can live in peace with an independent Israel. “We are committed to this vision, and we want the two states solution. We have two Jerusalems –the west and the east. We recognize that the west is Israel, but they should accept that east Jerusalem is an occupied territory and should be free as our capital.” Abbas believes this solution can be negotiated at the upcoming Annapolis conference with or without the presence and cooperation of Hamas.
For years, Israeli leaders have been claiming no Arab leader accepts their existence so how is it possible to negotiate for peace. President Abbas has openly stated Palestinian acceptance of the existence of an independent Israel. Undoubtedly, some Israel leaders will argue that Arafat made such statements but eventually refused to cooperate. Arafat is dead. Israel must decide whether it wishes to live in the past or to trust a more positive future. Of course, trusting the future carries risks, but continuing the present ongoing conflict also entails risks. Does Israel have leaders who are willing to trust in a future free of conflict?