Posts Tagged ‘two-state solution’

Trump backs two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict — Expects new Middle East peace plan within four months 

September 27, 2018

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he wanted a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the clearest expression yet of his administration’s support for such an outcome.

The Trump administration has said in the past it would support a two-state solution if both sides agreed to it.

Trump also said in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly he wanted to unveil a peace plan in the next two to three months.

“I like a two-state solution. That’s what I think works best … That’s my feeling,” Trump said.

© Nicholas Kamm, AFP | US President Donald Trump speaks as he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on September 26, 2018 in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu has said any future Palestinian state must be demilitarized and must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people – conditions that Palestinians say show he is not sincere about peace.

The United States’ Arab allies are strong proponents of a two-state solution.

Trump said at a news conference in New York later on Wednesday he would be open to a one-state solution if that was the preference of the parties themselves, a position he had previously stated.

“If the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that’s OK with me. If they want two states, that’s OK with me,” he said. “I’m happy if they’re happy.”

Doubts have mounted over whether Trump’s administration can secure what he has called the “ultimate deal” since December, when the US president recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and then moved the US Embassy there.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and suit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump, at the U.N. in New York, September 26, 2018

Trump said “it is a dream of mine” to secure an agreement before the end of his term in office in early 2021.

“I don’t want to do it in my second term. We’ll do other things in my second term,” he said. “I think a lot of progress has been made.”

‘Not enough’

Netanyahu said after meeting Trump he was “not surprised” at the US president’s preference for a two-state solution for peace with the Palestinians, Israeli media reports said.

Jerusalem is one of the major issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides claim it as their capital. Trump’s move outraged the Palestinians, who have since boycotted Washington’s peace efforts, led by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Israel captured those territories in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally. It regards all of the city as its eternal and indivisible capital.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said Trump’s broad commitment to a two-state solution was not enough.

“He has to spell it clearly… the two states (based on 67 borders), that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory. These (issues) are very important for us in order us to really move forward,” Maliki said in New York after meeting representatives of dozens of countries on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders.

US officials did not attend that meeting.

Asked if he would engage with the United States when it released its peace plan, Maliki said: “Not at all.”

“As long as he is sticking to his decisions about Jerusalem, about settlements and about moving the embassy, there is no way,” he said.

Trump, asked what Israel might have to give up in return for the embassy’s move to Jerusalem, replied: “I took probably the biggest chip off the table. And so obviously we have to make a fair deal, we have to do something. Deals have to be good for both parties … Israel got the first chip and it’s a big one.”

(REUTERS)

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King Abdullah II tells Pompeo the international community must support UNRWA

September 24, 2018

Meeting with the secretary of state on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York, the Jordanian royal says Palestinian refugee agency’s work must continue despite US cuts to funding

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, talks to Jordan's King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, right, during a meeting at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in New York, Sept. 23, 2018, in New York. (Andres Kudacki via AP, Pool)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, talks to Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, right, during a meeting at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in New York, Sept. 23, 2018, in New York. (Andres Kudacki via AP, Pool)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday that the kingdom believes a two state solution is the only path to peace and that the international community must continue to support the Palestinian refugee agency recently defunded by the Trump administration.

“The international community must bear its responsibility to provide the support required by UNRWA in order to continue to provide services to more than five million Palestinian refugees in the fields of education, health and relief,” said the Jordanian king.

Meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the two also discussed the strategic partnership between their two countries and the royal reaffirmed his position that a future Palestinian state should have East Jerusalem as its capital.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to use his speech to the UN tomorrow to urge the international community to either save the two-state solution or take responsibility for its demise and “burial,” unnamed Palestinian sources told London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat Friday.

Secretary Pompeo

@SecPompeo

Always enjoy meeting with @KingAbdullahII. We reaffirmed the strong bond and strategic partnership between the United States and , and recommitted to making progress on key regional issues.

The sources said Abbas’s appeal for an international peace conference will be his final effort to save the peace process before he is forced to make “difficult decisions.”

However relatives of victims of Palestinian terror attacks have called on US President Donald Trump to bar Abbas from attending the UNGA.

“Abbas is the one person who is personally responsible for the monthly reward payments by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and the families of terrorists who murdered our loved ones,” the group, American Victims of Palestinian Terrorism, said in a letter.

The victims’ relatives said the decision to allow Abbas entry into the US was not only a “slap in the face” to those who have suffered from Palestinian terror, but also “in clear violation of the spirit and the letter of American law.”

Over the past few weeks the United States has cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians and canceled its support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The US has also halted $25 million in aid to East Jerusalem hospitals, leading to warnings of the “collapse” of medical centers that provide crucial care to Palestinians.

The network, which is made up of six hospitals in East Jerusalem, provides healthcare such as cancer treatment and surgeries for Palestinians to whom such medical assistance is unavailable in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the World Health Organization.

Palestinian school children chant slogans and raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the West Bank on September 5, 2018. The United States, the biggest contributor to the UNRWA, announced on August 31 that it was halting all funding to the organization, which it labelled “irredeemably flawed” (AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER)

Trump said earlier this month that aid to the Palestinians will remain withheld until the Palestinians “make a deal with Israel.”

None of the cuts, however, directly targeted aid meant for the internationally recognized PA, which last month received some $42 million in frozen funds for security cooperation with Israel.

Though hailed by Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the cuts are said to be opposed by defense officials, who fear they could fuel Palestinian unrest and in turn jeopardize Israel’s security.

Furthermore, the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington ceased operations last week following a demand by the United States to shut down in a bid to pressure the Palestinians to enter peace talks with Israel.

The move to not grant the mission its normal six-month renewal came after Palestinian leaders allegedly breached the arrangement by calling for Israeli officials to be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The PA has boycotted the Trump administration and rebuffed its peace efforts since the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of last year. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem — which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed — as the capital of their future state.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/jordans-king-tells-pompeo-the-international-community-must-support-unrwa/

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Philippines’ Duterte eyes arms deals on Israel trip

September 2, 2018

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday left for a visit to Israel and Jordan, pursuing a pivot away from his nation’s long-time reliance on American military hardware and support.

The four-day visit to Israel will be the first by a Philippine leader in more than 60 years of diplomatic ties between the two nations, even though the links between their people go back to Manila’s sheltering of Jews during the Holocaust.

Duterte’s visit has generated much attention, powered both by his penchant for foul-mouthed statements — including likening himself to Hitler — and his internationally condemned drug crackdown that has killed thousands.

Duterte, accompanied by an entourage including soldiers and police, will sit down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and hold an event with some of the thousands of Filipino migrant workers in Israel.

“We assign great importance to this visit, which symbolises the strong, warm ties between our ‘two peoples,” Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

© AFP | Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing Israeli military hardware

Duterte has pivoted the Philippines away from its former colonial master the United States and towards warmer diplomatic and business ties with China and Russia.

The US and Canada have both seen military hardware deals fall apart with the Philippines due to concerns over Duterte’s drug war. But so far sales with Israel have gone smoothly.

“(The visit) is for President Duterte to look for an alternative market for… weapons for our armed forces as well as for the police,” Henelito Sevilla, an international relations expert at the University of the Philippines, told AFP.

Israel is among the world’s top arms dealers, with nearly 60 percent of its defence exports going to the Asia-Pacific region, according to Israeli defence ministry data.

– Two-state solution –

The Philippines emerged as a significant new customer in 2017 for Israel, with sales of radar and anti-tank equipment worth $21 million.

Manila says the trip is expected to yield agreements on defence as well as labour, which is one of the Philippines’ top exports.

Some 10 million Filipinos work abroad and send home money that is a lifeline for the economy. Manila is keen to sign agreements on protections for the workers.

Although the Philippines has a special bond with Israelis for giving refuge to some 1,300 Jews fleeing the Holocaust, Duterte drew global condemnation for comparing himself to Hitler in 2016.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said. Most mainstream historians say six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

Duterte later apologised for his remarks, which he said were aimed at critics who had likened him to the Nazi leader.

Just over a year later the Philippines abstained from a UN vote rebuking the United States for moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinians see the eastern part of the disputed city as the capital of their future state.

Duterte on Sunday expressed support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We shall be guided by our constitution and laws as well as our international commitments in support of efforts and initiatives including the two-state solution,” he told reporters.

Netanyahu says he wants the Palestinians to govern themselves, but has recently declined to specify whether that would mean an independent Palestinian state or some diluted form of autonomy, which many right-wing Israelis advocate.

Duterte heads to Jordan on September 5, where he is expected to meet King Abdullah II.

AFP

Palestinians slam Trump security advisor pick Bolton — Pakistan and Iran also likely angry…

March 23, 2018

AFP

© AFP | John Bolton addresses the United Nations Security Council on 14 October 2006, when he was United States Ambassador to the UN

RAMALLAH (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) –  A senior Palestinian official on Friday slammed US President Donald Trump’s choice of hardliner John Bolton as his new national security advisor.Trump on Thursday announced that Bolton, an arch-hawk and former United Nations ambassador, would replace army general HR McMaster.

Bolton is known for his strong support for Israel and hostility to Iran. He has previously said the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead.

“This man has a long history of hostility to Palestinians, dating to when he was at the United Nations, where he was protecting Israeli immunity,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi told AFP, referring to US vetoes of UN resolutions targeting Israel.

With Bolton’s appointment, she said, the Trump administration “has joined with extremist Zionists, fundamentalist Christians and white racists”.

“All this will lead to a devastating reality for Palestine and the region.”

In contrast, members of Israel’s government, considered the most rightwing in the country’s history, hailed the appointment.

“President Trump is continuing to appoint true friends of Israel to senior positions. John Bolton stands out among them,” said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of the far-right Jewish Home party.

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Top Jewish advocate Ronald Lauder excoriates Israeli policies in rare criticism

March 19, 2018

Times of Israel

March 19, 2018

WJC president says West Bank occupation, Orthodox hegemony are Israel’s ‘self inflicted wounds,’ in New York Times op-ed

World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder on October 13, 2014. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder on October 13, 2014. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

WASHINGTON — Openly breaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder said current Israeli government policies threaten Israel’s democratic character and even its existence.

In an op-ed on Monday in the New York Times, Lauder also pressed hard for a two-state solution, significant because the cosmetics billionaire has the ear of US President Donald Trump, who is about to unveil a Middle East peace proposal.

Trump has said he is agnostic about whether two states is the preferred outcome for Israel and the Palestinians and Netanyahu has over the last year retreated from endorsing two states.

Much of the column was an excoriation of Netanyahu’s policy in terms more commonly heard on the pro-Israel left, including the argument that Israel cannot be both a Jewish state and a democracy unless it relinquishes control of the lives of the Palestinians living in the West Bank.

“The Jewish democratic state faces two grave threats that I believe could endanger its very existence,” Lauder wrote.

“The first threat is the possible demise of the two-state solution,” he wrote. “I am conservative and a Republican, and I have supported the Likud party since the 1980s. But the reality is that 13 million people live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. And almost half of them are Palestinian.”

Lauder alluded to his closeness to Trump and to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and implicitly chided Netanyahu for his repeated claims that the only thing obstructing peace is Palestinian recalcitrance.

“President Trump and his team are wholly committed to Middle East peace,” Lauder said. “Contrary to news media reports, senior Palestinian leaders are, they have personally told me, ready to begin direct negotiations immediately.”

Lauder also objected to the control that Orthodox in Israel have over a range of issues including marriage and organized prayer at the Western Wall.

“By submitting to the pressures exerted by a minority in Israel, the Jewish state is alienating a large segment of the Jewish people,” he said. “The crisis is especially pronounced among the younger generation, which is predominantly secular.”

Lauder was for decades close to Netanyahu, backing him during his first run for prime minister in 1996 and defending him in Diaspora arenas. Over the last several years, there have been signs that they have grown apart, stemming from Lauder’s refusal, seven years ago, to block a report unflattering to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, that was broadcast on an Israeli television channel in which Lauder had a part ownership stake.

Lauder, chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder cosmetic empire and president of the World Jewish Congress since 2007, has also been one of the most consistent voices of support for Trump in the Jewish community, and the two have been friends since the 1980s, when they both emerged as influential moguls on the New York political and social scenes.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/top-jewish-advocate-ronald-lauder-excoriates-israeli-policies-in-rare-criticism/

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Mr. Lauder’s op-ed in the New York Times)

EU and Norway To Meet in an Effort To Find Funding For Palestinian Aid, Stalled Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

January 29, 2018
BY TOVAH LAZAROFF
 JANUARY 29, 2018 04:12

 

‘This important meeting aims to bring all parties together to discuss measures to accelerate efforts that can underpin a negotiated two-state solution.’

unrwa

A MAN STANDS next to a cart carrying a sack of flour distributed by UNRWA in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in January, 2018.. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
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“In an effort to support the peace process and address the dire situation in Gaza, Norway and the EU will convene an extraordinary session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) on January 31 at the ministerial level,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council in New York last week.

“This important meeting aims to bring all parties together to discuss measures to accelerate efforts that can underpin a negotiated two-state solution and to enable the Palestinian Authority to resume full control over Gaza,” he said.

“I call on the parties to work constructively and produce tangible outcomes that support these objectives,” Mladenov added.

The meeting comes as the US has said it plans to halt financial support to the Palestinian Authority and has severely curtailed its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency which provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees.

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The AHLC was established in 1993 to coordinate development assistance for the Palestinian people. The 15 member body includes the members of the Quartet: the UN, the EU, Russia and the United States.

Other members include Canada, Egypt, Japan, Jordan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

It is one of the few high level forums in which Israeli and Palestinian officials cooperatively meet. It often meets twice a year; the last such gathering was held in September in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

 http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/EU-and-Norway-to-hold-urgent-meeting-on-Israeli-Palestinian-crisis-540085

 

Trump’s Jerusalem move boosts Palestinian support for ‘armed struggle’: poll — Centuries of hatred could also be a factor…

January 25, 2018

AFP

© AFP | US President Donald Trump angered Palestinians by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

JERUSALEM (AFP) – US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital led to a spike in Palestinian support for “armed struggle”, a poll suggested Thursday.Nearly twice as many Palestinians said they supported “armed struggle” against Israel compared with an identical survey six months previously, while there was also a fall in support for the two-state solution, the joint Israeli and Palestinian poll found.

The poll of 1,270 Palestinians across east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza was conducted in the days after Trump’s December 6 declaration that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognise the city as Israel’s capital.

Palestinians see at least the east of the city as the capital of their future state, and the announcement set off street protests and diplomatic fury.

Given four options for their preference for the next step for Palestinian-Israeli relations, 38.4 percent of Palestinians favoured waging an armed struggle, the most popular single answer and compared with only 26.2 percent who called for reaching a peace agreement.

The same poll in June found 21 percent support for armed struggle, while 45 percent backed a peace agreement.

Khalil Shikaki, from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and one of the report’s authors, said there had also been significant declines in Palestinian support for a peace process and compromise as well as in the popularity of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the Trump statement was the fundamental cause.”

Dahlia Scheindlin from the Tami Steinmetz Center at Tel Aviv University, another report author, said that she expected the support for militancy could fall in the coming months if tension subsides.

America’s ‘ultimate deal’ for Middle East peace may still fail

January 23, 2018
There has been much speculation over President Donald Trump’s plan to reach an “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians and, until Dec. 6, when the US president announced his infamous decision with regard to Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership was cautiously optimistic over its prospects. But the Jerusalem declaration dashed all hopes and gave the Palestinians, as well as all Arabs, a reality check on where the US administration stands with regard to the classical two-state solution, previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and pertinent UN resolutions on the issues.
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And, if we are to believe the leaked report that Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat submitted to the Palestinian Central Council last week, then we now have a first look at the main parameters of the proposed peace plan to be unveiled by the White House in the coming few weeks or months.
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The parameters include defining Palestine as a “state minus”, whatever that term means. They also propose giving Israel security control over the Palestinian entity, which is another vague term that could be interpreted to mean an open-ended occupation.
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Other parameters make it clear Israel will maintain a permanent presence along the Jordan River, the future of Jerusalem will be determined by the parties and there will be land swaps but not based on the 1967 lines. It is also proposed there will be no settlement evacuation, and that the refugee problem will have a “just solution.”
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These are the alleged broad settings that the US peace plan will be based on. And they can only mean one thing: The White House has “borrowed” these terms and conditions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s playbook on resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. In effect, the proposed plan does away with the Oslo agreement and with all previous US positions and commitments, in addition to sidelining UN resolutions and associated international laws on the issue.

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With the US’ unilateral decision on Jerusalem in mind and with the latest US move to slash aid to UNRWA still fresh, the above parameters appear to be in sync with the perceptions and convictions of the US administration. As much as the proposed plan gives zero attention to Palestinian rights, which happen to be in line with international law, UN resolutions and the position of the vast majority of countries, it would be foolish to assume that the US can simply force such a humiliating settlement on the Palestinians.
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But what is likely to happen is this: The US will present its plan — barring a sudden change in calculations in the White House — and the Palestinians will reject it immediately. Israel will embrace it, with the usual reservations, and will kick-start a series of unilateral moves to implement major portions of the plan. This will include annexing the settlements and imposing military rule over East Jerusalem in order to justify steps to hasten the forced transfer of its Palestinian residents and embark on plans to evict them from villages along the Jordan Valley.
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Illegal as all these steps are, Netanyahu and his far-right coalition partners will go even further by passing laws that annex major chunks of the West Bank, while underlining the Jewish nature of the Israeli state. Meanwhile, the US will try to tempt the Palestinians to accept or re-engage in return for substantial aid packages.

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While leaked parameters will lead to a scenario that is depressing and infuriating, it is unlikely Israel’s unilateral actions and America’s blind support will be accepted by the Palestinians or the international community.

​Osama Al Sharif

But, as much as this scenario is depressing and infuriating, it does not mean that Israel’s unilateral actions and America’s blind support will be accepted by the Palestinians or the world community. All the plan will do is make the Palestinian cause a top priority among all of the world’s major crises. It will deepen US isolation on this matter and will trigger violent reactions by Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. It will likely entice European, Asian, Latin American and African countries to recognize the state of Palestine; albeit a state under occupation.

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The Palestinian leadership has been cautioned by close Arab allies and European friends not to adopt radical stands — such as rejecting US mediation and withdrawing recognition of Israel — at least until the White House unveils its proposed peace plan. The idea being that quiet behind-the-scenes diplomatic engagement can influence the US and alter its position. International rejection, including by America’s closest allies, of Trump’s unilateral move on Jerusalem has rattled the US administration and may force it to review its stand.
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More importantly, perhaps, the crisis over Jerusalem has done a lot of damage to US credibility in the region, and has dampened support for Trump’s mediation efforts. It would be reckless for the US administration not to look back and take world and regional reactions into account. But, if the US ignores its allies and pushes ahead, thus ending all realistic prospects of a two-state solution, then the Palestinians can still derail such plans by changing their strategy and embracing the one-state option and upending Israeli schemes.
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Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. Twitter: @plato010

EU ministers, Abbas to study ways to back two-state solution

January 22, 2018

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks during a conference on Jerusalem at the Al-Azhar Conference Center, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (AP)
BRUSSELS: The European Union’s top diplomat says EU foreign ministers will study ways to support a two-state solution in Israel and the Palestinian territories in talks Monday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
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Federica Mogherini said that the EU is working “to support an international framework to accompany direct negotiations” despite the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
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President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem, which the Palestinians also see as their future capital, broke with international consensus on the best way forward in Middle East peace moves.
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Mogherini told reporters that “clearly there is a problem with Jerusalem. I would say that this is a very diplomatic euphemism.”
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She said “the only pragmatic, realistic solution for Jerusalem has to come through direct negotiations.”

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No More Two-state Solution? In Dramatic Meeting, Palestinians Set to Announce New Strategy

January 14, 2018

Palestinian factions to gather in Ramallah to determine how to press ahead in wake of Trump’s Jerusalem declaration

By Jack Khoury Jan 14, 2018 2:40 PM
Haaretz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris, December 22, 2017

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris, December 22, 2017 Francois Mori/AP
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to indicate what course the Palestinians will take – a continuation of the diplomatic process or demanding the implementation a one-state solution – during a dramatic meeting slated to take place in Ramallah on Sunday, Palestinian officials told Haaretz.

The meeting of the Palestinian Central Council is convening against the backdrop of U.S. President Donald Trump’s December 6 announcement declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and the unprecedented rift this caused between the Palestinian Authority and Washington.

Sunday’s meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah — seat of the Palestinian Authority government — will be held with representatives from most Palestinian factions but two important organizations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, announced that they will not attend, even though they were invited.

Hamas spokesman Fauzi Barhum criticized the decision to convene the gathering in Ramallah, saying that it should have been held in a different country to ensure the participation of senior representatives from all the factions.

Despite Hamas and Islamic Jihad shunning the meeting, Salim Zanoun, chairman of the Fatah Central Committee, said over the weekend that at least 90 of the 114 representatives of the council will attend the meeting, and they are expected to approve recommendations and suggestions that are raised.

Haaretz has learned that in discussions that were held over the weekend both by the Fatah Central Committee and by the PLO’s Executive Committee, a slew of suggestions is being considered; among them is the idea of nixing the Oslo Accords and the security coordination on the grounds that Israel has breached all agreements so the Palestinians are not committed to continue and uphold the accords.

Other elements in Fatah and in the PLO are leaning toward the option of continuing international efforts, especially through the United Nations, the European Union, China and Russia in order to advance international recognition of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

According to Fatah officials, the next Palestinian move would be to implement their demand to make the conflict an international issue and demand that the UN set up a team to resolve it. The United States could potentially be a member of such a team, the officials said, but it cannot be the exclusive mediator of the political process.

Haaretz has also learned that over the past several days, European and Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia have been applying pressure on the PA and on Abbas in particular not to take game-changing steps and to enable action on the international and diplomatic fronts.

Abbas is expected to make the opening speech of the meeting on Sunday evening. Palestinian officials who were involved in inside talks over the past several days told Haaretz that Abbas is expected to determine whether the Palestinian leadership will be changing course and strategy on Israel.

They say Abbas is slated to decide whether he will demand the implementation the one-state solution or still adhere to the diplomatic process, but not under the auspices of the White House.

The officials said that at the end of the day, regardless of decisions and recommendations at the meeting, every future move will depend on the will of Abbas and where the PLO’s Executive Committee steers the Palestinians.

Senior officials in the PLO have said that among the recommendations to be introduced at the meeting is the freezing of Palestinian recognition of Israel as long as Israel refuses to acknowledge a Palestinian state along the ‘67 borders.

Another suggestion would be asking the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state along the ‘67 borders as well as define PA lands as a country under occupation. Yet another suggestion was to turn to the International Court of Law in order to start legal proceedings against Israel.

The Palestinian Central Council is an advisory body that meets when it is impossible to convene a parley of the Palestinian National Council (the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization) and is supposed to provide the PLO’s executive committee, which is the highest-ranking Palestinian executive body, with recommendations relating to policy.

The meeting will draw to a close on Monday evening.

A senior member of the PLO’s Executive Committee told Haaretz that despite the dramatic atmosphere Abbas’ associates are trying to create, there is no expectation for game-changing moves.

A senior member of Islamic Jihad, Khader Adnan, said that the participation in the meeting was redundant because its results are known in advance and because he thought Abbas had no intention of breaking entirely with Israel and abandoning the Oslo Accords and their consequences.

Hamas stated that if Abbas really wanted to promote the Palestinian interest he would have to announce the cancellation of the Oslo Accords and the security coordination with Israel as well as change his entire strategy when it comes to the PA’s relationship with the Jewish state.

Jack Khoury
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-1.834713