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PA premier calls ‘Israeli occupation’ biggest threat to Palestinian environment

In remarks at UN climate conference in Glasgow, Shtayyeh accuses Jewish state of uprooting ‘about 2.5 million trees’

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh addresses the Glasgow Climate Conference on November 1, 2021. (WAFA)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh addresses the Glasgow Climate Conference on November 1, 2021. (WAFA)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said “Israeli occupation” was the greatest threat to the Palestinian environment, in remarks at Monday’s international climate conference in Glasgow.

“We’re here today to tell the world that the Israeli occupation is the most critical long-term threat to the Palestinian environment,” Shtayyeh said in a tweet.

The Palestinian premier further claimed that Israeli policies were “systematically destroying” the traditional Palestinian environment.

“If one looks at the map of modern Palestine, one sees how the environment is being systematically destroyed. Since 1967, Israel has uprooted about 2.5 million trees, including about 800,000 olive trees,” Shtayyeh alleged.

Ramallah signed the Paris Climate Accord when it was launched in 2016. In his speech, Shtayyeh hailed the PA’s efforts to increase the use of solar energy in the West Bank over the past decade.

“Most public institutions, mosques, churches and schools have begun to take their electrical energy from solar energy. Five hundred schools have been connected to solar energy,” Shtayyeh said.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh arrives for the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow on November 1, 2021. (PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP)

But, he added, Israeli control of the West Bank was preventing wider use of solar energy. Palestinians working in renewable energy have long argued that Israeli restrictions have prevented the construction of solar panels in Area C, especially in the Jordan Valley.

“The challenges that Palestine faces are a mix of being influenced by both the climate and by life under occupation. Israel is a stumbling block to Palestinian policies, especially as we cannot use all of our territory for solar energy,” Shtayyeh said.

The hard-right Regavim nonprofit slammed Shtayyeh’s remarks that Israel posed a threat to the Palestinian environment.

“The reality is the exact opposite,” the group scoffed on Twitter, alongside a list of images purportedly showing PA environmental violations.

Separately, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Italy for a state visit on Monday night. He was accompanied by senior diplomatic adviser Majdi Khalidi and religious affairs adviser Mahmoud al-Habbash. PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki also joined the delegation, according to a statement by Abbas’s office.

Abbas is expected to meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella as well as the country’s current prime minister Mario Draghi.

The aging Palestinian leader has rarely traveled abroad over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic, save for sporadic trips to neighboring Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey. This will be his first official visit to Rome since 2019. 

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