Gabbay: Israel must withdraw from West Bank if peace talks fail

Gabbay: Israel must withdraw from West Bank if peace talks fail
Israel's key opposition leader made waves by declaring his support for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank if peace negotiations between the two states fail
2 min read
04 February, 2018
The Labour leader's remarks come as a response to Likud's aggressive settlement annexation plans [Getty]
The chairman of the Israeli Labour Party, Avi Gabbay, announced on Saturday that Israel must unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank if peace negotiations fail, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"We must do all we can in order to hold genuine negotiations," said Gabbay, who has made a string of controversial statements since becoming the leader of the Labour Party in July.

"If, after all our efforts, it seems the Palestinians don’t want an agreement, we’ll have to take unilateral measures to guarantee that Israel forever remains the homeland of the Jewish people. The liberty to make such a decision is ours, not theirs," Gabbay said during the interview.

"If there aren't two states for two peoples, there will be one state with an Arab majority, and we don't want to reach that situation. We are the ones who have to make the decisions and the Palestinians have to reach a situation where it is worth their while to reach an agreement.

"I believe we have to do everything possible to get to the negotiations stage and to build genuine mutual trust between the two sides so that we can make progress."

Gabbay's statements on the Palestinian question follow on from his address at the annual conference of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies last week, where he urged progress on forming a two-state solution.

"We must separate from the Palestinians for ours and our children’s sake. We must, so that we can realise the great opportunity that has come our way for reaching a regional agreement with the moderate Sunni states," the leading politician said in his keynote speech.

According to Haaretz, Gabbay plans to submit a resolution at his party's next conference, urging, "separat[ion] from the Palestinians on the basis of the principle of two states for two peoples."

His recent stance on a future peace deal is seen by many as a response to rival party Likud's resolution to annex and expand Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Gabbay's latest statements seem somewhat of a turnaround from his previous stance on the Israeli presence in the West Bank.

He mentioned in an October interview that a future peace deal would not have to include Israeli settlers leaving the West Bank, which led to fierce criticism and accusations he was veering his traditionally leftist party to the right of the political spectrum.