BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- PLO official Saeb Erekat responded Tuesday to a YouTube video in which Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon argues the West Bank is not occupied territory.
“With this video, the Israeli government has left no doubt on its pro-conflict agenda. Now, the international community knows,” Erekat said.
“This is not an amateur video prepared by an extremist group. An official representing the State of Israel presents a cynical and falsified account of history and international law,” he said in a statement.
In the video, Ayalon offers an alternative view of Israel's status in the West Bank, which, according to a broad consensus internationally, is occupied Palestinian territory and includes East Jerusalem.
Pointing to a timeline onscreen, Ayalon says Israel's arrival in 1967 was "the result of a war of self-defense and should not be seen as occupied territory because there was no sovereign body there before."
Responding to that claim, Erekat said the acquisition of territory by force and aggression "is both illegal and deplorable. This is a well established principle of international law."
The world regards the Palestinian territory as occupied, he said.
Furthermore, he added, the fact that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, are illegal "is not in dispute, except in minds of the advocates of occupations."
Erekat says that while the leadership in Ramallah was "shocked" to see such hostility from its supposed peace partner, this video was the next logical step from the far-right government.
“We call on the international community to demand an official explanation from the Government of Israel regarding this video, which openly expresses hostility towards the Palestinian people," Erekat said.
“This offensive presentation of official Israeli policy provides additional proof as to why the international community should invest in peace and support Palestine’s admission to the United Nations.”