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Abbas addresses Arab Summit in Jordan, reiterates commitment to two-state solution

March 29, 2017 7:23 P.M. (Updated: March 30, 2017 12:31 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The 28th Arab League Summit kicked off on Wednesday at the Dead Sea in Jordan, where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his commitment to the two-state solution and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative without any revisions.

Abbas said during the summit, held in the King Hussein Convention Center, that Israel must “abandon the idea that Israeli security is achieved by controlling (Palestinian) lands” if the government desires to be a “partner for peace,” adding that Israel must “end the occupation and stop preventing Palestinians from achieving independence on their lands,” in order to receive respect from its “neighbors,” referring to Arab states surrounding Israel.

Abbas warned in his speech that Israel was turning the political conflict into a religious one, which could have dangerous effects on the whole region.

The Palestinian leader also reiterated that the Israeli government’s escalation of illegal settlement construction and its continued confiscation of Palestinian lands threatened the possibilities of a two-state solution. “It is reaching the situation of imposing a reality of a one-state apartheid system,” he said.

He also pointed out that Israel continued to control occupied East Jerusalem, “changing its identity and not respecting the historical status of the Muslim and Christian holy sites.”

"We are working on ending occupation and accomplishing Palestinian goals of achieving freedom and independence through political and diplomatic means,” he said, adding that the two-state solution was the only way to achieve peace in the region.

He also stated that Palestinians wanted the Arab Peace Initiative “exactly as it was when issued in 2002 without any edits,” recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Abbas stressed the importance of increasing financial support for Jerusalem in order to “reinforce the determination of Jerusalemites (Palestinians with Israeli-issued Jerusalem IDs) amid an Israeli campaign against their presence in the city,” adding that “Jerusalem is calling all of us to support and visit the city to confirm our rights in Jerusalem” -- despite Palestinians in the occupied West Bank being barred from entering Jerusalem without an Israeli-issued visitation permit.

Hours before he joined the conference of the Arab League Summit, Abbas met with the US President Donald Trump’s envoy, Jason Greenblatt.

Abbas was quoted in Lebanon’s The Daily Star as saying "I told him (Greenblatt) what we had said 20 years ago, that the solution is two states with our capital East Jerusalem open to all religions."

"With regards to the Arab Peace Initiative, we have nothing new, and we won't agree on any amendment to it as we accept all its chapters from A to Z with special focus on the chapter that says Israel must withdraw from all Arab lands including the Syrian Golan Heights and the Lebanese Shebaa Farms," Abbas was also quoted as saying.

He said he had emphasized once again to Greenblatt that Israeli settlements were illegal under international law.

The Daily Star quoted Abbas as saying that the Palestinian Authority “counted on the king of Jordan and the Egyptian president to explain to US President Donald Trump everything about the question of Palestine when they meet with him,” while adding that Trump's stated objective of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would “complicate the situation.”

In the 12 years of Abbas’ rule -- eight of which have been since his mandate was indefinitely extended -- the PA has been on the receiving end of mounting criticism over its corruption and seeming inability to advance towards a just solution for Palestinians.

However, it is the PA’s security coordination with Israel -- which has been denounced by critics as a “revolving door policy" of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons -- which has become the most prominent target for critics of Abbas’ government, as detention raids by Palestinian police have sparked violent clashes, in recent weeks.

The killing of prominent Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj at the hands of Israeli forces earlier this month, months after he was released from Palestinian custody, has also inspired anti-PA protests, which were violently suppressed by Palestinian police.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his address to the summit said that the international community has “failed to provide the avenues and support for a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine.”

“I understand the deep sense of despair of the Palestinian people,” he said. “The dreams of generation after generation have been confined by the parameters of conflict, humiliation and half a century of occupation.” He stressed that the conflict could not merely be managed, and that a commitment to conflict resolution must be the focus, adding that the two-state solution was “the only path to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis can realize their national aspirations and live in peace, security and dignity.”

Guterres also underscored the importance of ending Israel’s illegal settlement activities, while also mentioning the importance of Palestinians to “condemn terrorism and to avoid incitement.”

While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements, Israeli leaders have instead called for an escalation of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, and with some having advocated for its complete annexation.

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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