16 February 2017
By Hani Hazaimeh
JEDDAH: Palestinians have expressed shock and anger over an apparent shift in US policy, after a White House official said peace with Israel did not necessarily have to entail a two-state solution.
In its first reaction to the outcome of the Trump-Netanyahu meeting, the Palestinian Authority reiterated its commitment to a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant international covenants, the international legitimacy and the Arab peace initiative.
Husam Zomlot, strategic affairs adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told Arab News Wednesday that the PA is willing to deal positively with the Trump administration on that basis, and rejected the Israeli prime minister’s language of dictation.
“The continuation of Israeli control of the western border of the state of Palestine, as well as the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, are considered a continuation of Netanyahu’s attempt to impose facts on the ground and destroy the two-state option and replace it with the principle of a one state with two systems (apartheid),” a statement by the Palestinian Authority seen by Arab News said.
The statement demanded the Israeli prime minister respond to the request of US President Donald Trump and the international community to halt all settlement activities, including in occupied East Jerusalem, stressing at the same time its willingness to resume a credible peace process.
The Israeli government’s “ongoing attempts to destroy the two-state option through the continuation of settlements and imposing facts on the ground, will lead to more extremism and instability,” said the statement, stressing the need to defeat extremism and terrorism in all its forms, so that people of the region can live in peace and security.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO, told Arab News: “The two-state solution is a Palestinian adoption of an international formula. In fact, it represents a painful and historic Palestinian compromise of recognizing Israel over 78 percent of historic Palestine. Today, almost 6 million Palestinians live under Israeli control in all of historic Palestine, while almost 6 million Palestinians live in exile.
“Our political program remains to end the Israeli occupation and achieve the two-state solution in the 1967 border. The reality today is one of apartheid.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned against abandoning the idea of a two-state solution.
“There is no alternative solution for the situation between the Palestinians and Israelis, other than the solution of establishing two states, and we should do all that can be done to maintain this,” he said during a visit to Cairo.
A spokesman for the Hamas movement said the announcement was “confirmation that the so-called peace process is an illusion.”
Earlier, several Palestinians were puzzled by similar earlier statements quoting an unnamed US official as saying a two-state solution is not a necessity for achieving peace.
“If the Trump administration rejects this policy it would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility abroad,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a statement to Reuters in response to the US official’s remarks. © Arab News 2017