Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said a two-state solution cannot be reached while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the Israeli government, Thursday, in his first remarks since the Likud leader cruised to a fourth term in Tuesday voting.
Netanyahu seemed to turn to the right during campaigning, putting the kibosh on a Palestinian state — though he later Thursday said he still backed “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution” — and his win drew the anger of several Palestinian officials.
“Netanyahu’s declarations against a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state, if they are correct, prove the Israeli government has no serious intention to reach a diplomatic solution,” Abbas was quoted as saying during a PLO cabinet meeting Thursday in Ramallah.
The president was reacting to comments made by Netanyahu during an interview on Monday, in which he said that a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch should he be reelected, warning that any areas that came under Palestinian rule would subsequently become a Hamas stronghold.
Asked directly whether no Palestinian state would be created under his leadership, the prime minister answered: “indeed.”
While eyed warily by Palestinians and the international community, Netanyahu had been on record since 2009 as supporting a two-state solution. In a US TV interview later Thursday, however, the prime minister dialled back that comment: “I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution,” he told MSNBC. He said circumstances in the region have changed, but that “I haven’t changed my policy. I never retracted my speech in Bar-Ilan University calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state.”
Abbas, who before the election said he would treat whoever won the election as a peace partner, said the election results will not sway the Palestinian Authority from continuing diplomatic efforts to achieve international recognition, adding that Netanyahu’s eve-of-election comments were “worrying but nothing new.”
He also blasted Yisrael Beytenu chairman Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who recently said Israel must “decapitate” the heads of Arab Israeli citizens involved in terrorism, calling his remarks “racist.”
Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official and chief negotiator in deadlocked peace talks with Israel, told Palestinian radio on Wednesday that Netanyahu’s win was a barrier to peace. “It is now very clear that there is no Israeli partner,” he said.
Erekat further stated that the Palestinians will intensify efforts to bring Israel to trial in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Israeli news site Walla reported.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration signaled on Wednesday that the US may ease its staunch opposition to the Palestinian UN Security Council bid to create a state. “There are policy ramifications for what he said,” one official told AP of Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric rejecting the creation of a Palestinian state. “This is a position of record.”
AP and AFP contributed to this report.