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Palestinian political factions object to Paris peace conference

Jan. 15, 2017 4:36 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 16, 2017 10:30 A.M.)
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault delivers opening remarks for the Paris peace conference (Photo: Ibrahim Hmouz)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- In spite of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority’s endorsement of a peace conference being held in Paris on Sunday, other Palestinian factions were opposed to the premise of the international summit, and said they were not expecting any diplomatic breakthroughs.

Kayid al-Ghoul, a senior leader in the Gaza Strip for the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) told Ma'an on Sunday that he expected the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to turn to the United States to foil any possible outcome, five days ahead of the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump -- a vocal supporter of illegal Israeli settlements.

Al-Ghoul told Ma’an that the premise of the conference, which is expected to recommend the resumption of peace negotiations toward a two-state solution, meant “bypassing the right of return and self determination" for Palestinians.

Similarly, Daoud Shihab, a senior Islamic Jihad official in Gaza, described the conference as merely another attempt to resume a peace process “that Israel has already killed and buried, while the international community still refuses to admit that Israel is the main source" of the crisis.

He also warned that Netanyahu's “terrorist government” could react to the outcome of the conference with more demolitions of Palestinian homes and land confiscations in the occupied territory. Last month, Israel responded to a UN resolution condemning illegal settlements by approving new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem.

A Gaza-based leader within the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Talal Abu Tharifa, also warned of a possibility that the conference may create "low standards" regarding Palestinian rights.

He highlighted Israel’s belligerent opposition to any international intervention in the peace process by pointing to how Israel has been outraged over the mere fact the conference was held in the first place.

In his weekly cabinet remarks on Sunday, Netanyahu slammed the Paris conference, calling it “useless.”

"I must say that this conference is among the last twitches of yesterday's world. Tomorrow's world will be different -- and it is very near,” the Israeli prime minister ominously declared.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has welcomed the conference, and told French daily Le Figaro on Saturday that he believed the summit could be be the last chance to implement the two-state solution, saying that “2017 has to be the year the occupation ends, the year of freedom and justice for the Palestinian people.”

However, an increasing number of Palestinians say the prospect of a two-state reality has become dimmer, amid an a growing extremism among Israel's right-wing government and public, and a surge in illegal Israeli settlement construction that has now obtained the stamp of approval by US President-elect Donald Trump.

A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
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