Top Palestinian official warns against 'apartheid' one-state solution
AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP)
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Wednesday said that the only alternative to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be the creation of one sovereign democratic state in which all Palestinians are granted full and equal rights. Anything less, he warned, would be 'apartheid.'
"Contrary to [Prime Minister Benjamin] 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 said from Ramallah.
The top Palestinian negotiator's comments came as the White House appeared to walk back its support for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, with President Donald Trump saying during a joint press conference with Netanyahu on Wednesday that he could "live with" either a two- or a one-state solution to the long-simmering conflict.
"I'm looking at two state and one state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one," Trump said.
"As we have constantly stated, the two-state solution is a Palestinian adoption of an international formula," Erekat said, adding that even a two-state solution was a "painful and historic Palestinian compromise," as it involved "recognizing Israel over 78% of historic Palestine.
"Today, almost six million Palestinians live under Israeli control in all of historic Palestine, while almost six million Palestinians live in exile," the former Palestinian peace negotiator said.
Netanyahu made clear on Wednesday that his vision for any future peace agreement with the Palestinians was contingent on recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, as well as its full security control over the West Bank.
During a briefing with Israeli and international press following his closed-door discussions with Trump, Netanyahu refused to indicate whether or not he still endorses a Palestinian state. He did, however, indicate that Israel has no intention of annexing the West Bank and granting citizenship to the Palestinians living there.
Prior to his meeting with Trump, Netanyahu faced calls from many right-wing lawmakers not to endorse a two-state solution and to object to curbs on settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Netanyahu on Wednesday insisted that settlements are "not the core of the conflict" and did not make any commitment to reducing construction, while Trump said he would like to see Israel "hold back on settlements a little bit."
Following the meeting, the White House said that the two leaders "discussed the issue of Israeli settlement construction," and "agreed to continue those discussions and to work out an approach that is consistent with the goal of advancing peace and security."
Netanyahu echoed the White House's statement, saying that he and Trump "want to reach agreement" on settlements and would continue to discuss the issue further.
The Prime Minister also indicated that he would consider Trump's request to scale back settlement construction, saying: "If there’s a request to examine this issue from so friendly a president, I think it’s appropriate to make the effort.”
For the better part of half a century successive US governments, Republican and Democrat, have backed a two-state solution.
But since coming to office Trump has sought to show that the United States is an unwavering ally of Israel, trying to draw a contrast with President Barack Obama
Obama often warned that Israeli settlement construction could make a two-state solution impossible, and that a one state solution would put the future of the Jewish state in question.
Trump has yet to speak directly to the Palestinian leadership since taking office.
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Erekat persists with the old canard despite the fact there is no connection between the "Palestinians" and "historic Palestine".