Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel to withdraw from all lands it occupied in 1967, warning that the two-state solution may not be on the table for much longer.
“I would like to address our Israeli neighbors and say we are seekers of peace and freedom and our people made a major sacrifice when they accepted establishing their state on less than a quarter of the area of historical Palestine,” Abbas said Tuesday in a speech in Istanbul to a conference of the World Economic Forum, Reuters reported.
“So do not turn your backs on this opportunity,” Abbas added. “This opportunity may not stay on the table for a long time because the region is witnessing rapid developments.”
Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, under whose tenure Turkish-Israel relations have reached a nadir, said in his speech at the conference that the Palestinian issue remains “the most important problem threatening peace and stability in the region.”
Erdogan described conditions in the Gaza strip, saying, “People are being held captive in the world’s largest open air prison and at the same time on the other side a large-scale rage is being pumped across the whole region.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to restart negotiations with the Palestinians, but Abbas has insisted on a full freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the Judea and Samaria as a precondition to negotiating.
In Istanbul, Abbas called on U.N. Security Council members to exert pressure on Israel to stop building settlements.
JTA contributed to this report.