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Palestinians denounce US comments on 2-state solution, say alternative is apartheid

Feb. 15, 2017 7:24 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 16, 2017 1:34 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- A United States official said on Tuesday that the US was not necessarily committed to the two-state solution as the sole way out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sparking criticism from Palestinian officials who upheld that the two-state solution remained the only alternative to an apartheid system in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

The official said during a press conference that President Donald Trump and his administration was “not going to dictate what the terms of peace will be” between Palestinians and Israelis.

“A two-state solution that doesn’t bring peace is not a goal that anyone wants to achieve,” the official added. “Peace is the goal, whether it comes in the form of a two-state solution, if that’s what the parties want, or something else, if that’s what the parties want, we’re going to help them.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the statement as a “very dangerous shift” in US policy, adding that such a statement a day before Trump is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a “bad omen” which could disrupt diplomatic efforts to solve the conflict.

The ministry nonetheless that it would not make hasty conclusions or trust unconfirmed foreign policy changes.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said that the two-state solution was already a hard-reached compromise as a basis for peaceful conflict resolution, and that the proposed Israeli alternative to such a solution would equal to apartheid.

“(The two-state solution) represents a painful and historic Palestinian compromise of recognizing Israel over 78 percent of historic Palestine,” he said. “Today, almost six million Palestinians live under Israeli control in all of historic Palestine, while almost six million Palestinians live in exile.”

“Contrary to Netanyahu's plan of one state and two systems, apartheid, the only alternative to two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 border is one single secular and democratic state with equal rights for everyone, Christians, Muslims, and Jews, on all of historic Palestine,” Erekat stated.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said that an American rejection of the two-state solution “would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility abroad.”

“If US President Donald Trump is trying to create alternative realities, then he should spell out what the options are -- a one-state solution would require equal rights and citizenship for all, unless he is advocating for an apartheid state. However, a situation of perpetual occupation would only generate greater extremism and violence within the region and beyond,” she said.

“Accommodating the most extreme and irresponsible elements in Israel and in the White House is no way to make responsible foreign policy.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said on Friday that there was “no plan B” to substitute the two-state solution. “It is absolutely essential to avoid unilateral actions that undermine the possibility of that two-state solution,” Guterres said at the time.

The Israeli government has welcomed Trump’s presidency, as right-wing politicians believe they will more easily advance plans to expand Israeli settlements since Trump came forward as a vocal supporter of Israel and expressed opposition to a recently passed UNSC resolution that harshly condemned illegal settlements.

However, more recently, Trump has made statements critical of settlements, telling an Israeli newspaper on Friday that, "I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”

The US statement comes shortly after Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressed his opposition to the recently passed “Regularization law” granting official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank established on private Palestinian lands.

“(International law) does not allow a country acting according to it to apply and enforce its laws on territories that are not under its sovereignty. If it does so, it is a legal cacophony. It will cause Israel to be seen as an apartheid state, which it is not,” the Israeli head of state affirmed.

While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right, with more than 50 percent of the ministers in the current Israeli government publicly stating their opposition to a Palestinian state.

A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace given the existing political context, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
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