Palestinian PM: God help us if Trump wins

“The answer is land for peace, not peace for peace,” Shtayyeh said. “You cannot impose peace. It is only by compromise and agreement.”

Palestinian PM Shtayyeh speaking to the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee / Courtesy
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday that voting US President Donald Trump out of office is critical for the Palestinians.
“The election is very important. God help us, the EU, and the whole world if there are four more years of Trump,” he said.
Shtayyeh spoke out against Trump’s peace plan, presented earlier this year.
“Trump has wasted four years of everyone’s time,” he said. “The ultimate deal was not delivered. [Trump’s plan] was rejected by the Palestinians, the Arabs and Europe… The US is just too biased.”
Shtayyeh called for Europe to recognize a Palestinian state, saying it would help bring about a two-state solution and called for a full association agreement to be drawn up between the EU and the PA in preparation for statehood.
The PA prime minister lamented Trump’s “unilateral measures,” such as moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and the US cutting aid to the Palestinians.
Among other reasons, the US slashed the aid because of the Taylor Force Act, which halts American funding to the PA until it stops paying terrorists and their families through its Martyr’s Fund. In 2019, the PA spent NIS 517.4 million ($152.6m.) on salaries to terrorists, in and out of prison.
MEP Charlie Weimers of Sweden, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists, challenged Shtayyeh on this front, asking: “Can you look European taxpayers in the eye and promise that none of their money - directly or indirectly - will be used for terrorism? Can you promise them that you will cease the support for terrorism and embrace peace?”
Weimers highlighted “loopholes in EU counter-terrorism financing legislation, which lead to EU funds to the PA being funneled to EU-listed terror organizations.”

Among those organizations are the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Shtayyeh, however, said the “Palestinian leadership has never accepted terrorism” and it “calls for peaceful resistance, two states, negotiating and international law.”
THE PA prime minister reassured the European lawmakers that they are “supporting poor people in refugee camps, sick people, creating a culture of democracy and protection of human rights… building institutions for two states… It is unfair to say that some of this money goes to terrorist organizations.”
In his opening remarks, Shtayyeh also accused Israel of not acting in good faith because it claims Jerusalem as its capital and uses the term “disputed territories” to describe the status of Judea and Samaria, as opposed to the Palestinians’ preferred term, the “occupied territories.”
He also lamented the growing Jewish population of those areas, repeatedly using the term “Jewish settlers.”
“Israel has no intention of reaching an agreement with Palestine,” he stated.
Shtayyeh dismissed the United Arab Emirates’ and Bahrain’s move for full diplomatic relations with Israel as a “calculated self-interest [that] does not really come at the expense of Palestine.”
UAE and Bahrain still support the Palestinians and a two-state solution, he added.
“We are angry, because we wanted it to be done collectively, not by individual states,” he said, adding that Israel must accept the Arab Peace Initiative that calls for normalization in exchange for Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines.
Shtayyeh said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that these agreements are “peace for peace” will not work.
“The answer is land for peace, not peace for peace,” he said. “You cannot impose peace; it is only by compromise and agreement.”
Shtayyeh also discussed the Palestinians’ plans to hold a presidential election for the first time since 2005 and a parliamentary election for the first time since 2006, asking for European legislators to serve as observers.
He said that “Palestinians in Israel,” his reference for Arab-Israeli citizens, were eligible to run for a seat in the Palestinian parliament “whether Israel allows it or not.”
THOUGH THE PA and Hamas have been at odds with each other since the latter won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, separately governing the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, Shtayyeh said “we always respected the results of elections.”
“I hope the international community will accept Hamas,” he said of the terrorist group. “I hope Hamas doesn’t win the elections [but] we are ready to accept the results.”
Shtayyeh insisted that the PA will continue in its policy of not accepting the taxes and tariffs Israel collects for it, in accordance with the Oslo Accords. The PA stopped accepting its own money in protest of Israel’s intention to apply its laws to up to 30% of Judea and Samaria as per the Trump peace plan, and has continued to refuse the funds, even though Israel shelved its sovereignty plans.
Last week, the EU clarified that it will continue its aid to the Palestinians but will not provide any extra funding to help the PA cover for rejecting its own tax money.
Mick Wallace, an Irish MEP from the United Left-Nordic Green Left bloc, attacked Shtayyeh for cooperating too much with Israel, quoting from Iranian scholars.
“The two-state solution is impossible as the settlements stand,” Wallace said. “You have cooperated with Israel. Have you not acted like a security force in the West Bank for Israel? Have you not ever handed Palestinians over to the Israelis?”

“Security cooperation is not about handing Palestinians to the Israelis,” Shtayyeh explained. “It’s about Israelis running from Israel into WB [West Bank]; we will send them back. It’s about Israel respecting its agreement that Palestinian territory is a zone not to be incurred into by Israeli forces. It’s about an ambulance that wants to go into Jerusalem. It’s about exporting products because we don’t have a sea border, we don’t have an airport. That’s what security cooperation is about.”
The PA prime minister slammed “propaganda” against Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation: “We are not an Israeli security agent. We are here to fight for our rights, and peace and justice.”