New settlement construction threatens two-state solution, Palestinian PM warns

New settlement construction threatens two-state solution, Palestinian PM warns

Salam Fayyad says Israel's 'retaliatory' plans for building in East Jerusalem and West Bank are 'not constructive'

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (photo credit: image capture from Channel 2)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (photo credit: image capture from Channel 2)

The construction of 3,000 new apartment units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is detrimental to the prospect of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday told Israel’s Channel 2.

In an interview at the Saban Forum in Washington, two days after the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of upgrading the PA to non-member observer state status at the UN, Fayyad said that “the challenge for all of us now is to use what happened two days ago, to build on it” in order to arrive at a negotiated two-state solution.

He said the Israeli government ought not “spend too much time either thinking this is the end of the road — which it isn’t, from our point of view — or continue to sulk about it and express protestation and anger, and worse, actually, issue threats of retaliation,” because such measures are “definitely not constructive.”

Fayyad said that Israel’s announcement less than 24 hours after the UN vote that it was approving the construction of 3,000 new housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank seemed to be a retaliatory act. He added that such actions would “definitely… be more detrimental to the prospects of continued viability of a two-state solution.”

The PA prime minister’s condemnation of new construction over the 1967 Green Line came hours after French and British diplomats expressed their dissatisfaction with the Israeli government’s announcement. On Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the Israeli government’s building plans, saying, “these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”

Hatnua (The Movement) party Chairwoman Tzipi Livni told Channel 2 that she concurred with Clinton’s condemnation, calling the announcement “a policy that acts to unite the world and isolate Israel.” In the wake of the UN vote in support of the Palestinians, she said, most countries will likewise oppose Israel’s construction move.

Jordan on Saturday joined Turkey and other Arab states attending a Turkish-Arab partnership conference in Istanbul in condemning the settlement construction announcement.

Regarding the rift separating the PA and Hamas, Fayyad said that it is in the Palestinians’ interest to form a single, unity government within the framework of the Palestinian Authority in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. How precisely Fatah and Hamas, the two parties that control the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively, would make amends, he did not specify.

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