PA Ready to Renew Peace Talks with Israel to Avoid Annexation

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah. (Photo: via Abbas Facebook page)

The Palestinian Authority is reportedly ready to renew long-stalled peace talks with Israel and to agree to “minor” territorial concessions, according to a counter-proposal to a contentious US plan.

A Palestinian Authority text sent to the international peacemaking Quartet and seen Monday by AFP, says the Palestinians are “ready to resume direct bilateral negotiations where they stopped,” in 2014.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on June 9 that the PA had drafted a response to the US proposal but did not previously mention direct talks with the Israelis.

Israel’s coalition government has set July 1 as the date from which it could initiate action on US President Donald Trump’s Middle East controversial proposals.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Monday however that with new coronavirus infections still on the rise, any annexation of West Bank territory must wait.

“Anything unrelated to the battle against the coronavirus will wait until after the virus,” Gantz said. His office later clarified that he was referring specifically to the annexation plan.

The Trump proposal paves the way for Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, including Jewish settlements considered illegal under international law.

“If Israel declares the annexation of any part of the Palestinian territory, that will necessarily mean the annulation of all signed agreements,” the PA wrote in a four-page letter to the Quartet of the United Nations, United States, Russia and the European Union.

“No one has as much interest as the Palestinians in reaching a peace agreement and no one has as much to lose as the Palestinians in the absence of peace,” the document said.

“We are ready to have our state with a limited number of weapons and a powerful police force to uphold law and order,” it also said, adding that it would accept an international force such as NATO, mandated by the UN, to monitor compliance with any eventual peace treaty.

The text also proposes “minor border changes that will have been mutually agreed, based on the borders of June 4, 1967”, when Israeli forces occupied the West Bank.

Netanyahu is expected to announce Israel’s annexation of nearly 30 percent of the total size of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank.

The move is considered a stark violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, but Israel is moving forward with the plan because of the unconditional support it is receiving from the Donald Trump Administration.

The UN Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said in a statement on June 29, that “Annexation is illegal. Period”.

She added that “Any annexation. Whether it is 30 percent of the West Bank or five percent,” is also illegal, urging Israel to “listen to its own former senior officials and generals, as well as to the multitude of voices around the world, warning it not to proceed along this dangerous path.”

(Palestine Chronicle, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Social Media)

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