Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and US President Donald Trump listen to anthems during a welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017.
(photo credit: THOMAS COEX / AFP)
The PLO Executive Committee called on US President Donald Trump’s administration to endorse the two-state solution and ask Israel to halt settlement building, days after the White House announced a team of envoys including senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming days.
The Executive Committee is the PLO’s top body led by PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which convenes intermittently to discuss the Palestinian issue.
“The Executive Committee urged the American administration to back the principle of two states along the 1967 borders and ask the occupation authority, Israel, to halt colonial settlement activities,” an Executive Committee statement published on Saturday night in PA state media said.
The Trump administration has refrained from taking clear-cut positions on both the two-state solution and settlements, bucking former President Barak Obama’s policies on the issues.
Trump told a White House press conference in February that he “is looking at two-state and one-state” and that he is “happy with the one that both parties like.”
Since February, neither Trump nor his White House staff have backed a two-state or one-state solution.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has reportedly tried to convince Israel to limit settlement construction, but steered clear of condemning or calling it illegal.
“Our meeting concluded that we need to hear answers from the Americans on these two issues,” PLO Executive Committee member Abu Yousif said in a phone interview. “There is little hope for renewing the peace talks without the Trump administration endorsing the two-state solution and stating its opposition to settlements.”
The exact date of the American envoys’ arrival in Israel and the Palestinian territories is unknown, but Palestinian officials including Abu Yousif expect them to arrive before the end of August.
According to a White House official, Trump believes the relative clam in Israel and the Palestinian territories at the current moment presents an “opportunity to continue discussions and the pursuit of peace.”
Protests and clashes over the Temple Mount, a holy site to Jews and Muslims, took place during the latter half of July, but have since ceased.Michael Wilner contributed to this report.