PA says 24 years of peace talks have achieved nothing
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PA says 24 years of peace talks have achieved nothing

Ramallah calls on the international community to unilaterally establish a state of Palestine

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before holding direct peace talks at the State Department in Washington, DC, Sept. 2, 2010. (Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images via JTA)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before holding direct peace talks at the State Department in Washington, DC, Sept. 2, 2010. (Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images via JTA)

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Tuesday said that over two decades of peace negotiations with Israelis have produced “nothing,” and called on the international community to unilaterally establish a state of Palestine.

“We convinced the international community that the best way to reach a state is through negotiations. But after 24 years of negotiations, we have not gotten anything,” said Maliki, in a meeting with British Secretary of State for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt in Ramallah.

In the face of stalled peace talks, Maliki called for “active intervention” by the international community and the “imposition of peace” through the establishment of a Palestinian state, according to the official PA news site Wafa.

Alluding to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, a document that helped pay the way for the revived Jewish state, Maliki called on British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson to promise the Palestinians a state through a “Johnson declaration.”

Signed on November 2, 1917 by the UK’s then foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, the declaration announced his government’s intention to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in the Land of Israel.

It was seen as giving the Zionist movement official recognition and backing on the part of a major power, on the eve of the British conquest of the then-Ottoman territory of Palestine.

Formed as part of the Oslo peace talks with Israel in the early 1990s, the Palestinian Authority was supposed to act as a temporary government for the Palestinians until a state was established at the conclusion of the peace process. However, the process collapsed with outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000 and efforts to revive it over the years have proved largely fruitless.

Israel has rejected unilateral Palestinian efforts to establish a state, saying it can only come about after core issues are resolved through negotiations.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki holds a press conference at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Istanbul on August 1, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ozan Kose)
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki holds a press conference at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Istanbul on August 1, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ozan Kose)

According to the Wafa report Tuesday, the meeting dealt with the latest American efforts to renew peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians ahead of the arrival of a US delegation to Israel later this week.

Burt declared during his remarks that Britain remains committed to negotiations and a two-state solution.

“Britain affirms its long-term commitment to achieving a two-state solution through negotiations and affirms its continued support for the establishment of a Palestinian state by supporting the Palestinian government by providing health, education and other services,” the British official said.

Despite pressure from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the UK to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, London has declined to do so.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, in a September greeting ahead of the Jewish New Year, hailed the Balfour Declaration as an expression of the “UK’s support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.”

US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to arrive in Israel on Wednesday night with a US peace delegation, after quietly meeting with leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

Trump has asked his delegation to focus the talks on this trip around several broad themes, including finding “a path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combating extremism [and dealing with] the situation in Gaza, including how to ease the humanitarian crisis there,” according to a senior White House official.

While Ramallah has officially welcomed US peace efforts, officials have begun to grumble about what they see as a lack of US commitment to a two-state solution or finding a way forward, as well as a bias toward Israel’s positions.

Recently, off-the-record remarks by Kushner — made to a casual gathering of congressional interns — were leaked to the media in which he said there may not be a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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