If a two-state solution is not achieved, Israel will suffer “demographic death” and will not be able to exist as a democratic state, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Tuesday.
“Israel stands today before a big challenge — either the two-state solution or a demographic death,” Shtayyeh said in a speech at a meeting of Socialist International, an organization that brings together socialist parties around the world, at the upscale Carmel Hotel in Ramallah.
“For the first time since 1948, the demographic balance is in favor of the Palestinians. Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, there are 6.8 million Palestinians — 3 million in the West Bank, 2 million in Gaza and 1.8 million in 1948 [Israel]. The Israelis are 6.6 million. The Palestinians are 200,000 more than them.
“Either the two-state solution or a demographic death; either the two-state solution or no democratic or Jewish state; either the two-state solution or a racist regime in practice and law; either the two-state solution or no peace,” he declared.
The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, has consistently said it supports a two-state solution, while Hamas, which rules Gaza, has called for Israel’s destruction.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in the past that he supports two states in principle, though not in recent years. He has also stated that no Palestinian state will be created while he is in office and expressed support for applying Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank. In addition, many ministers in Netanyahu’s cabinet have strongly stated their opposition to the two-state solution.
Shtayyeh also lashed out at Jason Greenblatt, one of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoys, over comments he made at the United Nations Security Council last week.
“Mr. Jason Greenblatt believes, as he said at the Security Council, that the Palestinian people’s aspirations do not amount to national rights,” he said. “That is the highest level of political blasphemy and the highest level of prejudice against the Palestinian people’s national rights.”
Greenblatt told the Security Council last Tuesday: “So let’s start by acknowledging that there are no shortcuts and that fictions of international consensus, international legitimacy, arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law, and aspirations expressed as rights won’t achieve peace.”
Greenblatt also stated that while the Palestinians may aspire to a capital in East Jerusalem, they do not have a right to one.
“It is true that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority continue to assert that East Jerusalem must be a capital for the Palestinians. But let’s remember: An aspiration is not a right,” he said, contending that “aspirations belong at the negotiating table.”
Shtayyeh also met on Monday with members of a Meretz delegation attending the gathering in Ramallah, Elad Wolff, a spokesman for MK Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing party, said in a statement.
The PA prime minister told the members of the delegation, among whom were Zandberg and former Meretz MK Mossi Raz, that the Palestinians support peace talks with Israel, but he “expressed reservations” to them about the Jewish state and the US administration’s policies, Wolff’s statement said.
The Palestinians have frequently criticized Israel for settlement building, raids on PA-controlled parts of the West Bank, home demolitions and many other matters.