Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed on two major agreements, including the establishment of a two-state solution.
While both sides have agreed to a comprehensive deal that includes the creation of a Palestinian state, Israel’s prime minister has insisted on the status quo as the basis for any peace deal.
Netanyahu says he is confident Israel will win a fair settlement, but Abbas says he cannot trust Netanyahu.
What is the status of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations?
“I’m not sure that this [peace agreement] is the one that will actually lead to peace,” Abbas told Al Jazeera in a wide-ranging interview.
“I’m sure that it will lead to more problems.”
Abbas said that a long-standing, long-running conflict in the Middle East, which is currently in its fifth year, has not been solved and it is only in recent years that Palestinians and Israelis have reached a peace agreement.
“The reality is that there is no peace.
There is no real peace,” he said.
The two sides have made progress on several issues, including security and political issues, but they still disagree over the status and future of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Abbas said he wants the US to allow the creation in the West Jerusalem area of “an independent Palestinian state” with the West bank as its capital.
“There should be a future for the Palestinian state and Jerusalem, but not today,” he added.
On the Palestinian question, Abbas said the Palestinians were committed to an agreement that would allow them to establish a state for the Palestinians on their own land and not through any international body.
However, he added that the “right to return” was a precondition for a viable state.
“We’re not asking for a return to the pre-1967 borders,” he told Al-Jazeera.
“We’re asking for the return of our national home, our state.
And that’s why we have the right to return to our land, our homeland.
And we’re also not asking a return of refugees, and we are not asking the return to a refugee situation.”
Abbott also rejected Netanyahu’s contention that the Palestinians are not interested in peace.
“In my view, there is a huge divide between Israel and the Palestinians,” he noted.
“Israel wants peace, but Palestinians don’t want peace.
The Palestinian Authority wants peace.
And they want a peace that will lead them towards a viable peace.”
However, Abbas did concede that the two sides are “very close” to reaching an agreement on security, the two-State solution and the establishment to a Palestinian-Israeli future.
He also acknowledged that Israel has a right to defend itself.
“But it’s also true that we’re still in a period of intense uncertainty,” he explained.
“It’s also important to note that it is not our intention to start a military campaign.
We’re talking about security, not just in the short term but for the long term.”
How does Israel think about the peace process?
The Israeli prime minister told Al Jazeera that Israel is not a military power.
“Our position is very clear: If we have to use force to stop a terrorist attack, we will.
But we will not be a military force,” he stated.
“So we’re not looking to make any unilateral decisions about our security,” he continued.
Instead, he said, Israel would support the creation and implementation of a new Palestinian-led government, including a peace committee and peace negotiators, as part of a comprehensive settlement.
“This is the first step towards a Palestinian solution to the Palestinian issue, and it will be the second step,” he insisted.
On how he feels about the US, Abbas explained that he believes Washington’s policies are “not in the interest of the Palestinian people”.
“I do not want to put the US into a position where they could interfere in the peace negotiations,” he acknowledged.
“They have the power to influence the process, to try to influence it, and I do not think they should be interfering.”
The Palestinian leader also stressed that his country would not allow Israel to enter into any kind of military conflict with Iran.
“Iran is a terrorist state, it is a state of aggression and it violates the international law and the principles of international law,” he pointed out.
“Its activities and its policies are an aggressor and a threat to the peace of the world.”
Abbass also stressed the need to resolve the issue of Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem is an international city and an international capital, and the international community has said that it must be a capital of the state of Israel.
And so we will support the establishment and implementation as an independent capital,” he claimed.
On whether Israel will recognize a Palestinian unity government as a Palestinian government, Abbas was vague.
“What we have said is that the unity government must have the same rights as the Palestinian government.
It has to be equal to the