UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday told his hosts in Ramallah that there was “no plan B to the two-state solution,” and reiterated the UN traditional position that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are illegal under international law, and they constitute an “obstacle that needs to be removed for the possibility of two-state solution to be adequately implemented,” Ma’an reported.
These statements stood in sharp contrast with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Monday declaration that “we are here to stay, forever,” and that “there will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel. It has been proven that it does not help peace. […] We’ve uprooted settlements. What did we get? We received missiles. It will not happen anymore.”
Meanwhile, according to Israeli media, in the talks with the Koshner-Greenblatt team in Ramallah, the Americans asked the PA leadership to “keep a low profile” and not initiate new moves at the UN, so that the Administration could advance President Trump’s peace plan, which would include keeping the majority of the settlements intact.
Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Nabil Shaath said in an Arab radio interview that Trump’s envoys asked the PA to be patient for a few months before the An administration can present a peace plan with Israel. Sha’ath stressed in the interview that the PA representatives had repeatedly presented to their American counterparts their demands that he said must be recognized in all negotiations: an end to Israeli occupation, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, and a solution to the refugee problem.
That “refugee problem” refers to the Arabs who left Israel during the 1948-49 war, some 70 years ago, and all their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who wish to return to “their” homes.
Guterres, for his part, openly objected to the Trump suggestion that the approach to peace should begin with improving the economic situation of the Arab residents of the PA, and Israel removing some of their restrictions. The Secretary-General stressed that improvements to the economic and social life of PA Arabs are no substitute to the two-state solution.
Incidentally, in the Ramallah meeting between Guterres and PA officials, Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe blasted the Secretary-General for meeting with Israeli families whose loved ones, dead and living, are held captive by Hamas in Gaza. Qaraqe wondered why Guterres does not meet with the families of the 6,128 Arabs imprisoned by Israel, 450 of them by administrative detention.
Because they are criminal terrorists? That might be the reason.
A week ago, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas expressed his confusion regarding the US plan for a peace between Israel and the PA, reportedly saying that after 20 meetings with Trump officials he still “can’t understand” the Trump administration’s position on resolving the conflict.
Finally, an astute statement from an Arab leader.