Palestinian FM says US seeking to renew ties ahead of peace plan’s unveiling

But Riyad al-Malki stresses Washington ‘will not find a single Palestinian to accept’ its deal if it does not provide for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki speaks during a press conference at the International Criminal Court on May 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki speaks during a press conference at the International Criminal Court on May 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

The US is seeking to renew contacts with the Palestinian Authority as it gears up to announce its Middle East peace proposal, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Friday.

The PA cut official ties with Washington in December 2017, following the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

US President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to unveil the long-awaited plan possibly as early as next month, but the Palestinians have already rejected it as heavily biased in favor of Israel.

Malki told the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that US officials were making overtures to resume talks. But he stressed that “contacts are still completely cut off.”

US President’s peace process envoy Jason Greenblatt, left, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the President’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

He also said Washington “will not find a single Palestinian to accept” its deal if it does not propose a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.

He rejected any notion of economic incentives swaying Palestinian opinion. “The issue is not financial, but a principle and the right of the Palestinians to lift the injustice upon them,” he said.

Malki said Palestinians had the backing of other Arab states for their position.

“The Arab countries respect and appreciate our position and they convey our clear positions to the American administration,” he said.

At a UN Security Council meeting Thursday Malki said: “This is not a peace plan but rather conditions for surrender and there is no amount of money that can make it acceptable.”

The PA said Thursday it was asking the European Union to pick up the mantle in defense of the two-state solution if the upcoming US peace plan ditches Palestinian statehood.

PA ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour told reporters that he urged European officials during recent meetings in Brussels to seize the initiative and not allow the United States to be the preeminent player in the Middle East peace process.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour addresses the United Nations Security Council, at UN headquarters, January 22, 2019. (AP/Richard Drew)

The Palestinians urged the EU to call for an international conference that would reaffirm the global consensus of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reject the US approach.

“We are engaging them,” Mansour told reporters about his meetings with EU officials. “They have to act.”

“We would be extremely happy to show that there is more than one player in the field, trying to determine how we move forward.”

Mansour said the Palestinians also wanted Russia to step up its Middle East diplomacy and suggested that the United Nations could convene the Middle East peace quartet.

The Quartet “at least is a collective process and not only one party… trying to decide how we move forward,” he said, and added that it can move things forward based on past agreed positions.

Mansour said the Palestinians appreciate the two international conferences hosted by France, “but they did not build on it and continue it” — and also Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to host a summit between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

So far, Mansour said, the Palestinians haven’t seen any results of its initiatives.

Mansour said US actions — including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and cutting all funding for Palestinian refugees — and Netanyahu’s threat to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank will not solve the decades-long conflict and lead to peace.

Mansour said he was convinced that the Palestinians still enjoyed “massive support in the international arena,” but suggested that if diplomacy failed, the battle could then turn to demographics.

“If this is what they want to force on us — one-state reality — the Palestinian people will accelerate their reproduction machines and increase the number of Palestinians to face apartheid,” he said.

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