Shtayyeh: Respond to Israeli annexation, recognize Palestine as state

EU foreign ministers should reject Trump peace plan

A European Union flag flies outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 19, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
A European Union flag flies outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 19, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
The international community should recognize Palestine as a state if Israel annexes West Bank settlements, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said during a town hall meeting at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday.
“Israeli measures to annex certain parts of the West Bank, it does oblige all of us to come strong in response to these measures by recognizing Palestine as a state on the borders of ’67, with Jerusalem as its capital,” Shtayyeh said.
He highlighted the role of the European Union in helping to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EU foreign ministers should reject US President Donald Trump’s peace plan when they meet in Brussels on Monday, Shtayyeh said.
“I call upon Europe to give a serious reply to the Trump initiative,” Shtayyeh said. He asked the ministers to speak clearly, explicitly and loudly “in rejecting this proposal,” Shtayyeh said.
The Palestinian Authority prime minister urged the European ministers not to leave a vacuum but rather to support the Palestinian proposal for an international conference that would focus on salvaging a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines, Shtayyeh said.
The two-state solution, which does enjoy an international consensus, is in “serious danger,” Shtayyeh said. “Bilateralism as a paradigm has totally failed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” so “we have to move from bilateralism to multilateralism,” he explained.
The Palestinians have rejected the Trump peace plan, which offers the Israelis 30% of the West Bank and most of Jerusalem, save for areas on the other side of the security barrier. It offers the Palestinians a demilitarized state on 70% of the West Bank after four years.
At the conference, Shtayyeh charged that some of the land swaps offered to the Palestinians under the Trump plan, for residential and industrial zones has been a dumping zone for Israel’s nuclear waste.
The $50 billion offered the Palestinians under the plan is not an economic development opportunity but payment for concessions made, he said.
The Trump plan is not a proposal for negotiations but rather a proposal that would allow Israel to immediately annex the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank, Shtayyeh said.
This plan, he said, has become part of the reelection campaigns of both Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The Trump initiative has been born dead and will be buried very soon,” Shtayyeh said. “Trump has no partner, not in Europe, not in the Arab world and not in Palestine,” he added.
Shtayyeh explained that he did not see much hope in the March 2 election, because there is so much similarity between Netanyahu and his chief rival, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.
“The difference between Benny and Bibi is not more than the difference between Coca Cola and Pepsi-Cola,” Shtayyeh said.
Neither can give up Jerusalem or the Jordan Valley, he said.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi added that “we all want the conflict to end, we all want peace. But what kind of peace are we talking about. People need to feel that there is something in it for them.”
“We warn against the terrible consequences of any unilateral measure that would seek to create new facts on the ground that would make it impossible for us to move forward,” Safadi said.
He warned that if despair prevailed, if radicals exploit the conflict, the situation could change and the conflict could be perceived as a religious one, rather than a political one. If that happens, “everyone is in trouble,” Safadi said.
Safadi said Jordan believes it has a role in preserving the status quo in Jerusalem and ensuring that it remains a city of peace.
“We believe that sovereignty over east Jerusalem is Palestinian. The custodianship over the Christian and Muslim holy sites is Hashemite, but the responsibility of protecting Jerusalem and protecting Jerusalem as a symbol of peace and protecting the status quo is a Palestinian, Jordanian, Arab, Muslim and global responsibly,” Safadi said.