At J Street, Palestinian Ambassador Says Trump Peace Plan Must Include Jerusalem

'No state without East Jerusalem, and no state without resolving the issue of refugees,' Palestinian ambassador to Washington tells J Street conference

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Palestinian Ambassador to the U.S. Husam Zomlot at J Street annual conference in Washington. April 16, 2018
Palestinian Ambassador to the U.S. Husam Zomlot at J Street annual conference in Washington. April 16, 2018 Credit: J Street

WASHINGTON — Palestinian Ambassador to the U.S. Husam Zomlot told the J Street conference on Monday that the Palestinians will not accept any Trump administration peace plan that does not include East Jerusalem or address the issue of refugees.

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"We remain steadfast in our vision of peace and self-determination," Zomlot said in his speech to the pro-peace Jewish group's annual conference. "Two states on the 1967 borders with a state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital [and] a just solution to the problem of refugees."

"That vision would have to include a state of Israel, with final and secured, internationally recognized borders, and with neighborly relations with us," he added.

With regard to the Trump administration's upcoming peace plan, he said the Palestinians will not accept a "state minus" or a "state in provisional borders." He also said they will not accept a state "with one Israeli soldier on its soil."

He repeated that the Palestinians reject the American administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel: "It does not help the cause of peace. Jerusalem is the key to peace. Jerusalem is the very heart of the two-state solution. Without Jerusalem there can never be a two-state solution. That decision was counterproductive to peace."

Zomlot said that "no one can have exclusive claim for Jerusalem. We vow that once peace prevails, once the State of Palestine is created, with East Jerusalem as its capital, we will not only recognize the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, we will celebrate it."

Zomlot said the decision did not change the status of Jerusalem. "The only status that changed is the statue of Jerusalem as a mediator," he said.

"The two-state solution was never a Palestinian demand, but a concession. Painful, but essential for the cause of peace. We have done our share. We will continue doing our share. Peace is too precious, too long-waited for. We will continue doing our dues. We have recognized the State of Israel on 78 percent of historic Palestine," he said.

Zomlot said that "normalization" between Israel and the Palestinians is no shame but "is the result of peace, not a substitute for peace." He attacked the Israeli government for seeking only "a win all or lose all" policy.

The Palestinian ambassador was interrupted twice by an American-Palestinian protester who shouted slogans against the Palestinian leadership's legitimacy.

Zomlot said that the Palestinian Authority will not convene new elections "without East Jerusalem and Gaza," and that any election has to be "national."

"Our domestic situation is not easy, but we want to renew our democratic process," he added.