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PA ministry calls on Trump to intervene and stop Israeli annexation bill

Jan. 22, 2017 4:49 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 22, 2017 5:55 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called upon US President Donald Trump, describing him as "the main sponsor of peace process," to immediately intervene to put a stop to a proposed Israeli bill to annex an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The ministry released a statement Sunday, calling on Trump, two days after he was sworn into office, to work towards achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians alongside the international community to relaunch peace negotiations, following a peace conference held in Paris earlier this month reaffirming foreign commitment to the two-state solution.

The statement argued that the Israeli government's appeals to a "racist" far-right Israeli public, by "refusing peace" and insisting on the continuation of the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory, was indicative of an "internal political crisis," which would only escalate tensions in the region.

However, the ministry's appeal to the Trump administration came as the newly elected US president and his supporters have also been repeatedly accused of spouting racist and extremist rhetoric, while Trump has already declared his support for Israel's illegal settlements.

Separately, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority (PA) warned of Israel’s potential annexation of Palestinian lands that he said could "lead to uncontrollable consequences."

PA spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud said in a statement reported by state-run news agency Wafa that Israel would be "fully responsible" for such a move, noting that by annexing settlements illegally constructed on lands Israel first occupied in 1967 would represent a severe violation of international laws and conventions.

The Palestinian statements came as reports emerged that a vote on a bill proposed by Israel's Education Minister Naftali Bennett to annex the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim would be postponed after it was scheduled to take place Sunday, when Trump advisers expressed their disapproval to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that such a unilateral move would take place so soon after the presidential inauguration.

Later on Sunday, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that on top of the proposed bill to annex Maale Adumim, Israel's Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Yisrael Katz was also expected to present to the Israeli security cabinet a proposal to annex dozens of additional settlements in the Jerusalem area, including Maale Adumim.

Bennett has meanwhile said in recent private conversations that he had received messages from Trump’s advisers that the new US administration was “not bound by the two-state solution paradigm and is waiting to hear from Israel what its policy is on the Palestinian issue.”

Bennett has repeatedly asked Netanyahu to rescind his support for the two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian state, which Bennett perceives to be a security threat to the state of Israel.

While the Palestinian Authority government and members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right, with more than 50 percent of the ministers in the current Israeli government having publicly stated they are opposed to a Palestinian state.

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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