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Palestinians: EU, Russia and UN should counter US peace plan

May 7, 2019

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Palestinian U.N. ambassador said Tuesday that the European Union, Russia and the United Nations should take action to save a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the long-awaited U.S. peace plan doesn’t lead to two independent nations.

Riyad Mansour told a group of journalists that these key parties that support two-states living side-by-side in peace need to take practical actions that would prevent a U.S. plan without an independent Palestinian state from succeeding.

“We have a global consensus with us” supporting a two-state solution, he said, adding that if the Trump administration plan runs against that consensus, then there should be “practical steps” by supporters of Palestinian independence not to allow that plan to be imposed.

President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, a key player in drafting the plan, has been tight-lipped about its contents, saying last week that the blueprint, which has been two years in the making, attempts to ensure security for Israel and provide economic opportunity to improve the lives of Palestinians. The plan won’t be released before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends during the first week of June, and perhaps not even then.

The Palestinians have pre-emptively rejected any peace proposal floated by the Trump administration amid concerns it would fall far below their hopes for an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem — which they want as their capital — and Gaza, lands captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Their demand for a two-state solution is supported by the U.N. and almost all of its 193 member-states.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ruled out the United States as a broker for peace with Israel in a speech to the Security Council in February 2018 and called for an international peace conference by mid-2018 with the key goals of full U.N. membership for the state of Palestine and a timeframe for a two-state solution. That deadline was missed.

Mansour said he told EU officials and members during a visit to Brussels last month that support for a two-state solution is welcome “but that is not sufficient — they have to act on it.”

He said the EU could call an international conference “to see how we can open ways to move forward” based on the “global consensus.” The EU could also help save the two-state solution by having all members — including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg — recognize the state of Palestine, he said.

As for Russia and China, Mansour said, Russia already has authorization, including in a Security Council resolution, to host an international conference in Moscow. He added that the Palestinians are talking with Russia on why it doesn’t call for an international conference.

Mansour said another option is for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Russia or the EU to call for a meeting of the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators: the U.N., U.S., EU and Russia.

The Quartet “at least is a collective process and not only one party ... trying to decide how we move forward,” he said, and 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 Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which Netanyahu rejected twice.

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

Mansour said U.S. 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.

“Some in the (U.S.) administration think, yes, what will help peace is break the legs of the Palestinians and one arm, and five teeth ... and when they are on their faces on the ground crawling, they will come crawling to you for anything that you can offer them,” Mansour said.

“Those who think that way — they don’t know the Palestinians,” he said.

Mansour also insisted that the Palestinians will not leave their land.

“So if they want to force a one-state reality through annexation ... the Palestinian people will accelerate their reproduction machines and increase the number of Palestinians to face apartheid — because there is no name to it except apartheid,” Mansour said.

And Israel “will be responsible for the ramification of such an action,” he said.

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