TEL AVIV – The newly appointed Palestinian Authority prime minister on Tuesday said declared that the long-anticipated U.S. peace proposal for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be “born dead.”
Mohammad Shtayyeh (pictured) further claimed that the international community, including U.S. allies in the Arab world, would also reject the proposal outright.
“There are no partners in Palestine for Trump. There are no Arab partners for Trump and there are no European partners for Trump,” Shtayyeh said.
Shtayyeh also accused the Trump administration of waging a “financial war” on the Palestinian Authority.
“Israel is part of the financial war that has been declared upon us by the United States. The whole system is to try to push us to surrender” in order to force the PA into accepting the peace proposal, Shtayyeh said.
“This a financial blackmail, which we reject.”
According to a new report from the World Bank, the Palestinian deficit is set to increase from $400 million last year to over $1 billion this year.
Shtayyeh outlined some ways he’s hoping to alleviate the dire financial crisis, including cutting bonuses for PA officials, developing agriculture, receiving more aid from the Arab world and Europe, and seeking financial independence from Israel. The last proposal may include importing fuel from neighboring Jordan as opposed to Israel, and even introducing a Palestinian currency.
The U.S. cut millions of dollars in aid to the PA last year. Israel also suspended millions of dollars in tariffs owed to the PA over its so-called “pay-for-slay” scheme paying monthly stipends to Palestinian terrorists and their families.
Shtayyeh outlined a number of proposals for weathering the storm. He said he has imposed spending cuts by reducing perks for his cabinet ministers.
Although details of the proposal have been kept firmly under wraps, U.S. officials have made it clear that it will include strong economic incentives for the Palestinians. However, Shtayyeh said the only thing that mattered was statehood.
“Where are we going to have the Palestinian state?” he asked. “We are not looking for an entity. We are looking for a sovereign state.”
“Palestinians are not interested in economic peace. We are interested in ending occupation,” he said. “Life cannot be enjoyed under occupation.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh expressed the same sentiment on Tuesday, saying that the Palestinians would never accept a proposal that does not include a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as the capital.
“As long as Jerusalem is off the table, then Trump is off the table as well,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Abu Rudeineh as saying.
Abu Rudeinah noted that the final proposal has yet to be unveiled but added, “[W]hat we have seen from this plan is not acceptable at all. The issue of Jerusalem, the issue of settlements is not on the table. Unless these issues are on the table, we will never accept the [plan].”
“The Americans are not working in an honest way. They are biased and this situation is not going to lead anywhere,” he said.
The Palestinian leadership has boycotted the Trump administration since Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the subsequent relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Palestinian officials are also urging Russia to aid the PA in bypassing the Trump proposal, PA Foreign Minister Riad Maliki said.
On Sunday, the Washington Post cited anonymous U.S. officials as well as Arab officials as saying the plan would probably bypass the issue of statehood altogether.
While the proposal, dubbed by Trump as the “deal of the century,” will include major economic and other incentives for Palestinians, it will likely stop short of establishing a Palestinian state, the report stated.
However, a U.S. official told the Post that while the economic incentives were a vital part of the equation, the proposal would still address the issues at the heart of the conflict.
“But this is not a so-called economic peace. We are taking very seriously both aspects of this, the political, which deals with all the core issues, and the economic,” the official said.
“Core issues” generally refers to borders, status of Jerusalem, and the so-called right of return in which Palestinian “refugees” in the diaspora and their descendants will have the right to move inside Israeli proper, something that has always been a red line for Israel since it would spell the end of the Jewish state by demographic means.
Days before the April 9 elections, Netanyahu historically declared that he fully intends to extend Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank. The incumbent prime minister also said he had told Trump that would not evacuate “a single person” from the 400,000 or so Jews residing in the area.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said he did not believe Netanyahu’s talk of annexation would damage the peace plan.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether he thought Netanyahu “vowing to annex the West Bank” could harm the Trump proposal, Pompeo answered, “I don’t.”
“I think that the vision that we’ll lay out is going to represent a significant change from the model that’s been used,” he added.
“We’ve had a lot of ideas for 40 years. They did not deliver peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he said. “Our idea is to put forward a vision that has ideas that are new, that are different, that are unique, that tries to reframe and reshape what’s been an intractable problem.”
The Trump administration, he said, wants “a better life” for both Israelis and Palestinians.
“We hope that we can get to a better place,” he continued. “Everyone wants this conflict resolved. We want a better life for the Israelis without this conflict, and we certainly want a better life for the people of — the Palestinian people, both in the West Bank and in Gaza.”
Netanyahu also told Israel’s Army Radio that the Palestinians would not have a state or security control.
“There will be no Palestinian state,” he said, “not like the one people are talking about. It won’t happen.”
During a heated debate with Senator Tim Kaine last week, Pompeo refused to outright endorse a two-state solution to the conflict.