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Thursday 16th
posted by James Tweedie in World

Palestinians speak out after US moots dropping official stance

PALESTINIAN leaders warned yesterday that abandoning the goal of a two-state solution to their conflict with Israel would leave a unified state or apartheid as the only options.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) figures spoke out after a US official suggested on Tuesday that the internationally backed policy regarding Israel’s 50-year occupation of Palestinian land could be dropped.

The BBC reported a anonymous White House official as saying: “A two-state solution that doesn’t bring peace is not a goal that anybody wants to achieve.

“Peace is the goal, whether that comes in the form of a two-state solution, if that’s what the parties want, or something else, if that’s what the parties want.”

US President Donald Trump hopes to facilitate talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the official added.

He and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were set to meet in Washington last night.

Israeli Security and Information Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party, said yesterday: “All the cabinet ministers oppose a Palestinian state, including Netanyahu.”

Far-right Education Minister Naftali Bennett warned last week that “the earth will shake” if Mr Trump and Mr Netanyahu declare a commitment to a Palestinian state.

PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat, speaking after a meeting with British Commons Speaker John Bercow, said Mr Netanyahu’s plan of “one state and two systems” was “apartheid.”

He added: “The only alternative to two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 border is one single secular and democratic state with equal rights for everyone, Christians, Muslims and Jews, on all of historic Palestine.”

Veteran PLO peace envoy Hanan Ashrawi insisted: “If US President Donald Trump is trying to create alternative realities, then he should spell out what the options are.

“A one-state solution would require equal rights and citizenship for all, unless he is advocating an apartheid state,” she said.

“However, a situation of perpetual occupation would only generate greater extremism and violence within the region and beyond.”

Meanwhile, anonymous Palestinian Authority officials revealed yesterday that President Mahmoud Abbas had met secretly with CIA director Mike Pompeo in the West Bank on Tuesday, but did not say what they had discussed.

Speaking in Cairo, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said there was no “plan B” for the conflict and the international community must do everything it can to bring about a two-state solution.

Mr Erekat also attacked British Prime Minister Theresa May’s calls for celebrations on the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration this year, branding them “are not only unacceptable but insulting to the Palestinian people.”

The declaration issued by the British government during the first world war designated Palestine as a future Jewish homeland, despite the strong opposition of Jewish cabinet minister Edwin Montagu.

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