A pro-Israel group in the UK has launched a campaign claiming that the failure to renew peace talks in the Middle East is down to the Palestinian Authority alone.
We Believe in Israel (WBII), which kick-started its ‘Time to Talk’ campaign with petitions and Twitter ribbons, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had offered to hold peace talks without pre-conditions and that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should reciprocate.
However, it emerged last month that former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had brokered an outline agreement in 2015 for peace between Israelis and Palestinians which Egypt and Jordan backed, with the promised support of Gulf and Arab states, but Netanyahu rejected the proposals after consulting his cabinet.
In a statement, WBII said Netanyahu had “continuously called for peace talks,” citing his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he called for talks “today, not tomorrow, not next week, today”.
However critics say Israel’s own ambassador to the UN does not believe in a two-state solution, and that last week a parliamentarian from Netanyahu’s own Likud party said “the two-state solution is dead”.
WBII said it “aims to gain enough traction that the Foreign Secretary will publicly and directly call on Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table without preconditions,” adding: “There is no excuse for the PA not engaging in peace talks.”
WBII director Luke Akehurst added: “The status quo is not sustainable and not in the interests of Israelis or Palestinians. It is 50 years since the Six Day War. The issues arising from it need to be resolved. To his credit Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly offered talks without preconditions. It’s time the Palestinian Authority reciprocated.”
The grassroots group this week celebrated a “milestone” moment, after recording 15,000 activists, representing a doubling in size from this time last year, with almost half its activists being Christian.
Akehurst said: “It is staggering that we have grown from just 1,000 activists when we launched to 15,000 now. In the last few months the growth has been exponential.
The next step is for us to reach 25,000 activists. We hope to do that this year.”