Foreign Minister Shi-mon Peres kicked off the Labor Party's election campaign by calling on Palestinians to end their uprising and start a peace dialogue with Israel.
Peres also vowed to return occupied territory in exchange for peace, saying such a move would assure a stronger Israel with a clear Jewish majority."We shall rid ourselves of Gaza, we shall rid ourselves of areas densely populated by Arabs," Peres told a crowd of 3,000 supporters Monday night in a concert hall.
Peres called on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to end their 9-month-old rebellion and negotiate with Israel.
"We do not wish to oppress them, humiliate them or deport them. The road is open before them, instead of fighting, there can be dialogue," Peres said.
"The Palestinians will come (to negotiate) because a military option does not exist for them and they still do not have a political option of their own," Peres added and was wildly applauded.
The Palestinian revolt is the major campaign issue in the Nov. 1 elections, billed as the most crucial in Israel's 40-year history. At least 258 Palestinians and four Israelis have died in the unrest, which began Dec. 8.
In its new platform, the left-leaning Labor Party calls for the first time for direct talks with Palestinians and "leaves the door open for" dialogue with the PLO, said Peres aide Yossi Beilin.
Labor "will be willing to hold a dialogue with Palestinian people or agents who recognize Israel, oppose terror," and accept two U.N. resolutions which implicitly recognize the Jewish state, the platform says.