Herzog to Abbas : ‘We must have an uncompromising war on terror, and I am even more extreme than Netanyahu on that subject’

Isaac Herzog and Mahmoud AbbasIsaac Herzog and Mahmoud Abbas

In a meeting in Ramallah on Tuesday, Israel’s opposition leader Isaac Herzog told the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas there cannot be compromises in the war on terror, but said that if the will exists a peace agreement that ensures security can be reached within two years.

The security situation in the West Bank has become increasingly tense in recent weeks following an arson attack by suspected Jewish Israeli extremists on a Palestinian home, which killed two people. Several Israelis have since been attacked by Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem with vehicles, knives and rocks.

“The recent terrorist attacks could lead to a third intifada, which we must prevent with all the tools we have,” Herzog said.

He added, “We must have an uncompromising war on terror, and I am even more extreme than (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu on that subject.”

The meeting was the first between the two since Israel’s general election in March and reportedly lasted for more than an hour.

Zionist Union head Herzog told Abbas that there is a “rare regional opportunity that was created in recent months and which we must not waste,” which has seen “the backing of neighbouring countries for the Palestinians and ourselves to conduct a direct diplomatic process between us.”

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were suspended in April 2014, after the PA announced a national unity government with Hamas.

However, Herzog said that he believes “if there is the will, it is possible to reach an agreement which ensures the security of Israel within two years.” He called for both sides to resume dialogue, saying, “We must give hope to the [two] peoples by restarting the brave moves that will bring us back to negotiations.”

Later on Tuesday, Herzog said that a solution should begin with finding a way for Abbas to control the Gaza Strip and trust-building steps with cooperation from the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians and Gulf states.

“Saying ‘There’s no chance, there’s no chance’ is the biggest mistake leaders make – Netanyahu and Abbas,” he told Channel 2.

“The leaders need to talk and the nations need to talk so that we don’t wake up one day and become an Arab-Jewish state.”