Chief Palestinian Negotiator Blasts Trump Administration's Silence on Israeli Settlement Construction

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO, says Israel interpreting silence as carte blanche to abandon two-state solution and advance apartheid regime

President Donald Trump reaches to shakes hands with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Evan Vucci/AP

Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian's chief negotiator, said on Tuesday that U.S. administration's failings in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process have become a barrier to renewing talks. Erekat specifically pointed to the Americans' not having been able to compel the Israeli government to cease construction in West Bank settlements and to accept the principle of two states along pre-1967 borders.

A statement from the secretary-general's office said that they had conveyed his message to the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, Donald Blome, and the representative of Japan to the Palestine, Takeshi Okubo, in two separate meetings.

Erekat said that President Donald Trump's administration's not taking a position on the ultimate goal of peace talks was problematic. He said that they should commit to the establishment of a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders. Erekat added that the administration's silence on the increase in Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank was being interpreted by the Israeli government as carte blanche to abandon the two-state solution and work towards a one-state, two-governments reality in which one of those governments imposes an apartheid regime. The secretary-general pointed to Israeli legislation and policies as evidence of this.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks during a joint news conference with Foreign ministers of Jordan Ayman Safadi, and Egypt Sameh Shoukry in Amman, Jordan, May 14, 2017.
MUHAMMAD HAMED/REUTERS

He called on Trump and the international community to lead the process of an international declaration through the Security Council setting the borders of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital. Erekat also called for them to present the parameters necessary to implement that declaration.

Erekat reminded the diplomats that UN Security Council Resolution 2334 says that the pre-1967 lines should be the borders of Israel and a future Palestinian state.