In a striking rejection of relentless international efforts to broker new talks, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Monday that the Palestinians will “never” return to direct negotiations with Israel.
Peace talks collapsed in April 2014 and since then, the situation has deteriorated, with the prospects of fresh dialogue appearing more remote than ever. But Malki said that one-on-one talks with Israel were out of the question.
“We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” Malki told a press conference. He is visiting Japan with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was due to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later Monday.
Malki stressed that a multilateral framework to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is needed and he praised an initiative discussed late last month by France to revive plans for an international conference to end the conflict.
And he warned that without international involvement, a vacuum will be left that may end up being filled by the Islamic State jihadist group.
“If Daesh take advantage of lack of any brokers… then of course, they might come and try to fill it,” he said, referring to Islamic State.
“This is very dangerous,” he added.
“If the Americans are giving up and the Europeans don’t have the courage to do anything and Arabs are really worried about their own problems, what do you expect? Extremists around might take over.”
Malki said the new surge in violence has its roots in the Palestinians’ humiliation and desperation after decades of occupation.
Five Palestinians, including three teenagers, were killed while carrying out attacks Sunday, the latest in a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks on Israelis that erupted at the beginning of October. Since then over 170 Palestinians and some 30 Israelis have been killed. The vast majority of the Palestinians died in the act of attacking or trying to attack Israelis; others died during clashes and demonstrations.
Malki pointed to the ongoing Israeli control of the West Bank, which began in 1967, saying Palestinians born under it have seen nothing “but humiliation, soldiers’ check-points, deaths and killing.”
“They are born without any hope for the future… that’s why sometimes they (teenage assailants) decide to sacrifice their lives even at the age of 15… for the better lives of the rest of the Palestinians,” Malki told a press conference.
Malki added that the PA does not advocate violence and is trying to prevent it. “But the international community has to understand that there is a limit to everything,” he said.
Some analysts say Palestinian frustration with Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, the complete lack of progress in peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have fed the unrest.
Israel blames incitement by Palestinian leaders and media as a main cause of the violence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Abbas of fomenting terrorism, in part with false allegations that Israel intends to change the status quo at the contested Temple Mount in Jerusalem.