Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s talk about an “entity” – and not a state – for the Palestinians weakens the Palestinian leadership and emboldens the extremists who oppose any peace process with Israel, Ahmad al-Deek, senior political adviser to the Palestinian Authority foreign minister, said Monday.
In the future, the Palestinians will have an entity but not a full-fledged state, Gantz told the Munich Security Conference on Sunday.
“Eventually we will find ourselves in a two-entity solution in which we respect Palestinian sovereignty and governance, but we will be respected for our security needs,” he said.
In response, Deek told The Jerusalem Post the Israeli government was weakening the PA leadership and undermining the chances of reaching a two-state solution.
“What Gantz is saying and doing on the ground weakens the Palestinian leadership and the hand that is extended for peace [with Israel],” he said.
The Palestinians were not surprised by Gantz’s remarks, Deek said.
“For us, Gantz did not bring anything new,” he said. “This government and the coalition agreements that were signed among its components do not include any reference to a peace process or the Palestinian issue or the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
Gantz is “asking the Palestinians to accept the occupation, settlements and the Judaization of Jerusalem,” Deek said.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has also made “anti-peace” statements and has said there is no political process with the Palestinians, he said.
“He has also declared his rejection of the two-state solution,” he added. “As far as we are concerned, this government is hostile to peace, and there is no peace partner in Israel.”
Gantz’s remarks about a Palestinian “entity” are part of a “manipulation of words” by Israeli leaders, Deek said.
“The Palestinians will not be fooled by this playing around with words,” he said. “The representatives of the coalition [in Israel] are competing with each other about who would issue statements that are the most hostile to peace, the two-state solution and international resolutions [pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict]. We are searching for any partner for peace in Israel. Sadly, however, Gantz is closing the door by making such statements.”
The rhetoric of the heads of the coalition and Israel’s actions on the ground show that the government’s policy is to “consolidate settlements and apartheid in occupied Palestine, between the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea,” Deek told the Post.
He also criticized the US administration for not doing anything to pressure the Israeli government.
“The US administration is constantly stating that it is committed to the two-state solution and equal rights for the Israelis and Palestinians,” Deek said. “But this administration is seeing the land expropriation, settlement expansion, collective punishment, displacement of residents of Jerusalem and the Israeli attempts to eliminate Palestinian presence in Area C of the West Bank. How can the US administration talk about the two-state solution when all of this is happening?”
Hamas, for its part, said Gantz’s remarks constitute “a blow” to those Palestinians who continue to believe in a peaceful solution with Israel.
Gantz’s remarks “prove that the enemy understands only the language of force and reflect the criminal mentality of the occupation,” Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou said in a statement.