This is for the first time that Israeli Presidenthas raised serious concerns over Israeli settlements in Arab-populated areas. He said that Palestinian attacks on Jewish population can pose a serious challenge in the future and may even jeopardize existence of the Jewish community in the area. He, however, said nothing on the settlements that Palestinian authorities call illegal. Shimon Peres is usually considered a silent man, who does not want to indulge in controversial issues like settlements and dialogue with Palestinian authorities.
Peres' statement about the settlements and possible challenges to the Jewish community came as a surprise in most of the circles, as nobody ever expected such a statement from the president. He said this while addressing a memorial service for the visionary of the Jewish state known as Theodore Herzl.
In 2009, Peres supported the government's decision to halt the settlements in order to bring peace and stability in the area. He even encouraged the process of dialogue with Palestinian authorities.
Israel has built settlements in the East Jerusalem and West Bank. The settlements are termed illegal by Palestinian authorities and are a bone of contention between both the states, besides being a stumbling block in the way of peace. Though exact numbers about Israeli settlements are not available, but a safe estimate suggests that Israel has built more than 300,000 illegal settlements in the West Bank, while East Jerusalem houses around 200,000 illegal settlers.
In the first week of June, Palestinianurged Israel to accept a two-state solution based on 1967 borders. He also warned Israel that the window of opportunity to peace in the region might close if the country did not respond to the proposal forthwith. Abbas rolled out his solution of the decades-old conflict while speaking at a World Economic Forum conference in Istanbul.
In January this year, the dialogue between both the states was made possible by the Quartet – the United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations – and King of Jordan King Abdullah II. King Abdullah is considered an influential figure in the Arab world and it is heartening he has been taking interest in getting the conflict resolved between both the countries. The international community has also been pressing both the countries to have dialogue and try to find solutions to their longstanding issues.
Israel andhave virtually been at loggerheads with each other since 1967, when they fought first war. Palestine and some other Arab countries as well believe Israel has encroached on their land and its existence in the region is illegitimate.