WASHINGTON — A high-level Palestinian delegation to Washington has told State Department officials that they remain committed to “a negotiated two-state outcome,” even as they may move to push a resolution through the United Nations Security Council in the coming weeks that could make peace talks less likely.
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Majed Faraj, director of the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service, held a meeting Tuesday with Secretary of State John Kerry during which they focused on the peace process and growing threat of regional instability caused by the Islamic State terrorist organization.
In that meeting, the Palestinians reaffirmed their “longstanding commitment to nonviolence and reiterated their commitment to a negotiated two-state outcome,” according to a joint statement.
A two-state solution is “the only way to achieve an enduring peace that meets Israeli and Palestinian security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, end the occupation that began in 1967, and resolve all permanent status issues,” the statement said.
The Palestinians also met with Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones and National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
The meetings come as the Palestinians plan to initiate a resolution at the UN Security Council criticizing the construction of West Bank settlements, for which they hope the US will not use its veto power as it has in the past. They are expected to try to push for the measure before President Barack Obama leaves office on January 20, 2017.
The statement did not mention the possibility of a UN resolution. When asked on the matter during a press briefing, however, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that as regards any potential UN action relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “nothing’s changed about our view on that.”
Longstanding US policy has been for years that any resolution to the conflict should come from direct negotiations between the parties and not be imposed from the outside.
Israel also opposes any resolution which would impose a solution, saying it prefers to negotiate toward a final settlement. The passage of a Security Council resolution could push the prospects of direct negotiations further out, some analysts say.
The Palestinians also said they wanted to meet with members of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team while they are in the United States, but there has been no public confirmation yet that any such meetings have been set.
Earlier this week it was reported that Trump was already planning to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, including undertaking advance work on the project, hours after Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told a radio host it was “a very big priority for him.”
The Palestinians have long opposed moving the embassy, and US policy has been since 1967 that the future status of Jerusalem should be left to final negotiations, as both Israelis and Palestinians claim it as their capital city.