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Senior Palestinian Official Calls For New Peace Process With Israel

March 20, 2017

PhotoL Linda Gradstein/The Media Line
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Says Hamas charter will accept 1967 borders

Linda Gradstein/The Media Line

Ramallah, West Bank – Jibril Rajoub, the Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee, called for a new international push for the two-state solution, meaning an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. He said that as the 50th anniversary of the “Israeli occupation” approaches, now is the time for a new international push for a solution.

“A negotiated two-state solution is the only tool to settle this conflict which has been too long and too arduous,” Rajoub told a meeting of the Foreign Press Association. “We hope that the Israelis conclude the right conclusion and recognize realities on the ground. In spite of all the (Israeli) racism and apartheid there are still five million Palestinians on the ground.”

He was referring to the Palestinian population of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem and inside Israel which totals about five million. Rajoub spoke as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt and as a delegation of senior Israeli officials is in Washington to try to reach understandings on settlement construction in the West Bank. The issue was on the agenda in talks between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Presidential envoy Jason Greenblatt last week but there was no agreement reached. Israeli media reports said Trump wants to see a “slowdown” in Israeli construction in the West Bank.

In his remarks Rajoub was sharply critical of Israeli settlement expansion and said it must end immediately. He also said that no settlers could stay in the West Bank after any peace agreement with Israel.

“According to international law the settlements are a crime,” Rajoub told The Media Line. “A solution is not the responsibility of the victims, but of the criminals. The solution is to relocate the settlers to the recognized borders of the state of Israel.”

He said, however, that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had been open to the idea of “land swaps,” in which Israel would annex part of the West Bank in exchange for an equivalent amount of land inside Israel. He said this could solve part of the settlement problem.

Rajoub spent 15 years in Israeli jails, where he became fluent in Hebrew. He was jailed in 1970 for throwing a grenade at an Israeli army truck. He was released in the Jibril Agreement — A deal between the Israeli government and the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), led by Ahmed Jibril. On May 21, 1985, Israel released 1,150 Palestinian prisoners, including terrorist murderers, in exchange for three Israeli soldiers who had been taken hostage by the PFLP.

The Palestinian leader said he was hopeful that President Donald Trump would inject new momentum into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He said that the Palestinian intelligence chief had met the head of the CIA in Washington, and that President Trump has invited Mahmoud Abbas to visit Washington.

He also said that “national reconciliation” with the Islamist Hamas movement in Gaza is essential.

“I consider Hamas as part of our national public,” Rajoub said. “We have this split which is a shame for all Palestinians and we since 2007 trying to achieve national unity and we failed. Now I am optimistic there is a chance to achieve that.”

In the next few weeks Hamas is set to adopt a new charter that will reportedly soften its positions towards Israel by recognizing the 1967 borders and replacing the word “Jews” with the term “occupiers.”

An Israeli government spokesman said he did not want to comment on Rajoub’s remarks.

It was not clear why he was speaking now, but it seemed tied to President Trump’s efforts to move forward with an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

“The President expressed his strong desire to achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to continue the two countries’ consultations to help reach solutions for regional issues,” the White House said in a statement last week.

 

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