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Palestinians: Israel must back 2-state solution | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel must declare its support for the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state if peace talks are to resume, the chief Palestinian negotiator said Saturday.

In neighboring Jordan, senior officials from several Arab states reiterated their support for an Arab peace initiative offering recognition to Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories it occupied in the 1967 Mideast War, including land the Palestinians want for a state.

However, Israel’s previous centrist government did not accept the initiative, and it is even less likely to win the support of the new right-wing coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu hasn’t expressed support for the idea of Palestinian statehood, instead offering the Palestinians “economic peace,” and his foreign minister has dismissed peace efforts by the previous U.S. administration. A year of U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations did not produce tangible results, and it is unlikely talks on the terms of Palestinian statehood will resume under Netanyahu.

The Palestinians have set their own conditions for resuming negotiations.

“If Israel wants to engage in political negotiations, it must accept a two-state solution, agreements signed and halt settlement activity,” Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Saturday.

Erekat said that just as the international community boycotts Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers because of their refusal to recognize Israel, pressure must be put on Israel to recognize the idea of Palestinian statehood.

“Failure to apply the same standards would mean pushing this region into the hands of extremists,” Erekat said. In the Jordanian capital of Amman, senior officials from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Qatar said they remain committed to the Arab peace initiative, first proposed in 2002.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said the collective Arab position is a “commitment to the Arab peace initiative, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the comprehensive and lasting solution that we all seek for the conflict in this region.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II will convey that message to President Barack Obama when the two meet, Judeh said, adding that no date has been set yet for a visit. Qatar’s support was also significant because it has some influence over Hamas.