In counter to US peace plan, Palestinians say “ready for direct talks with Israel”

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh addressing a press conference in Ramallah on March 29, 2020. (Wafa)

Ramallah also tells peacemaking Quartet it agrees to ‘minor border changes’ and international peace-keeping force, but will withdraw offer if Israeli West Bank annexation proceeds.

The Palestinians are prepared 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, said that the Palestinians are “ready to resume direct bilateral negotiations where they stopped,” in 2014.

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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on June 9 that the PA had drafted a response to the US proposal, but did not previously mention a new readiness for resume direct talks with Israel.

Israel’s coalition government has set July 1 as the date from which it could start unilaterally annexing swaths of the West Bank — the settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley — allocated to it under US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.

The PA said the counter-proposal would be withdrawn if Israel went ahead with annexation “of any part of the Palestinian territory.”

“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,” said the four-page letter to the Quartet of the United Nations, United States, Russia, and the European Union.

“We are ready to have our state with a limited number of weapons and a powerful police force to uphold law and order,” it 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 took control of the West Bank.

More than 450,000 Israelis live in the West Bank, in settlements deemed illegal by most of the the international community, alongside some 2.8 million Palestinians.

Washington’s proposal provides for the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, but on reduced territory and without the Palestinians’ core demand of a capital in East Jerusalem.

The plan has been rejected in its entirety by the Palestinians.

The European Union opposes it and is demanding that Israel abandon its annexation ambitions.

(Times of Israel).


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