Palestinians want to discuss US peace plan with Europe, PA FM says

Riyad al-Malki says two countries could recognize Palestine soon, notes efforts to return Guatemalan embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki speaking to Palestine TV, the official PA channel, on April 23, 2019. (Screenshot: Palestine TV)
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki speaking to Palestine TV, the official PA channel, on April 23, 2019. (Screenshot: Palestine TV)

The Palestinians have requested to meet the foreign ministers of European Union member states in the coming few weeks to speak to them about the US administration’s expected peace plan, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told Palestine TV, the official PA channel, on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump’s administration will publish its anticipated peace proposal following Ramadan, which will end at the beginning of June, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, said on Tuesday at a Time magazine conference in New York.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed not to consider any US proposal, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will look at the expected American plan with an “open mind.”

Ties between the US and the Palestinians have steadily deteriorated since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, and initiated the relocation of the American embassy in the Jewish state to the city.

The EU has consistently affirmed its support for the two-state solution, including the creation of a Palestinian state.

EU Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the European Union External Action headquarters in Brussels, on October 26, 2015 (PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND)

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has warned of “abandoning” the two-state solution, contending that doing so “would bring greater chaos, not only to the Holy Land, but also to the entire Middle East.”

The Washington Post recently reported that while the US administration’s expected plan “promises practical improvements in the lives of Palestinians,” it “is likely to stop short of ensuring a separate, fully sovereign Palestinians state,” citing people knowledgeable of its “main elements.”

The Palestinians have repeatedly expressed support for the two-state solution, while Netanyahu has lately made several statements that suggest he does not back it.

Malki on Tuesday also indicated that two countries could recognize the “State of Palestine” soon.

“We are working with two states. We hope to obtain the recognition of the State of Palestine from these two states in very near future,” Malki said, without naming the countries.

Asked whether he was referring to European states, Malki responded that one is in Europe and the other is in North America.

A PLO Executive Committee member, who asked to remain nameless, said in a phone call he was not aware of which states Malki was alluding.

More than 130 countries have recognized Palestine, but many of the worlds most powerful countries, including the US, United Kingdom, France, and Germany, have not made such a move.

Israeli officials have said that recognizing Palestine before a peace deal is finalized will harden the Palestinians’ negotiating positions, making it more difficult to reach an agreement.

Abbas has said recognizing Palestine would encourage Palestinians to maintain hope for peace.

Guatemala President Jimmy Morales speaks during the official opening ceremony of the Guatemala embassy in Jerusalem on May 16, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Malki on Tuesday also asserted that Guatemalan political parties had informed the Palestinians that if they win the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, they will work to relocate the Latin American country’s embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

In May 2018, Guatemala moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, two days after the US had relocated its main diplomatic offices in the Jewish state from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“There are elections in Guatemala soon. We are optimistic that the Guatemalan President [Jimmy] Morales will not be reelected. We are working with many parties that are running for parliament and the presidency,” he said. “We have reached understandings with them that if they win these elections, they will work to return their embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv…We are optimistic that we will succeed in returning the embassy to Tel Aviv after the presidential elections in Guatemala.”

Guatemala is slated to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on June 16.

The Palestinians fiercely protested both the US and Guatemalan Embassy moves and labeled them violations of international law, while Israel welcomed them.

Most Popular
read more: