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PA slams Israel minister's 'dangerous' comments on statehood

June 17, 2013 5:14 P.M. (Updated: June 19, 2013 12:34 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman on Monday called on the Israeli government to clarify its position on remarks by its economy minister dismissing the two-state solution.

"These are dangerous remarks by a minister in the Israeli government which has been expanding settlements and evading all commitments and instead imposing preconditions to negotiations," said Nabil Abu Rdeina.

At a conference in Jerusalem on Monday, MK Naftali Bennett said the idea of Palestinian state had reached a "dead end," and that the state of Palestine never existed.

"Never, in the history of Israel, have so many people put so much energy into something so pointless," the Israeli minister said, referring to efforts to reach a two-state solution. He added that the occupied West Bank belonged to "the people of Israel."

Abbas' spokesman demanded the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announce a clear stance toward Bennett's remarks.

Abu Rdeina added that Bennett's remarks demonstrated a defiant rejection of US efforts to rescue the stalled peace process.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was to visit the region last week for the fifth time since taking office in February hoping to revive direct peace talks, but postponed citing the need to focus on the situation in Syria.

Abu Rdeina urged the international community, and Washington in particular, to denounce Bennett's "destructive" comments which he said harmed all those who believed in the two-state solution and a just peace.

Meanwhile, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday that recent statements by Israeli officials showed clearly that "Israel officially rejects the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders."

Bennett's remarks come after Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, rejected in an interview earlier this month with The Times of Israel the notion that the government was serious about reaching a peace agreement that would lead to a two-state solution.

Erekat said the statements were in line with Netanyahu's policies to expand settlements, demolish Palestinian homes and revoke the residency rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

"This is clearly part and parcel of an Israeli plan to foil any possibility to establish a Palestinian state. They plan to annex Jerusalem and change the status quo in the city in addition to plans to annex the Jordan valley and other vast areas of the occupied Palestinian state," the PLO official said in a statement.
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