Riyad Al-Maliki to Asharq Al-Awsat: Efforts Are Underway to Save 2-State Solution

Riyad Al-Maliki to Asharq Al-Awsat: Efforts Are Underway to Save 2-State Solution

Friday, 12 October, 2018 - 07:00
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki holds a news conference at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Walschaerts
Barcelona - Michel Abou Najm
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said that the US has been implementing its own version of a peace plan, known as the “deal of the century”, without declaring it officially due to the lack of Arab and international support.
 
He noted that the Palestinian Authority was ready to re-engage in peace talks with the US Administration if the latter went back on its decisions against the Palestinians.
 
However, the foreign minister denied the presence of initiatives to re-launch the peace negotiations, adding that efforts were underway to maintain the two-state solution and stand against Washington.
 
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the Third Union for the Mediterranean Forum in Barcelona, Maliki warned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could seek to get out of his internal crises through a war waged in the Gaza Strip or Lebanon.
 
“Israeli statements are escalating. This is quite clear to us. They suggest that there is a preparation for such a strike that we hope will not happen, because the ultimate goal will be the Palestinian people and infrastructure, not the Hamas leadership or anything else,” the foreign minister stated.
 
“Unfortunately, the Israelis – facing an impasse - look for external routes: either a war in Lebanon or in Gaza. It is quite clear that today they have major dilemmas, the most important of which are investigations into the four corruption cases facing the prime minister and the other parallel scandals against his wife. Thus, there is an attempt by Netanyahu to evade these scandals through escalation and war or by calling for early elections,” he explained.
 
Maliki noted that the Israelis have been waging war on Gaza every three or four years. “We do not want such a war, and we want to protect our people in Gaza. But the daily statements of the Israeli military and politicians indicate a desire for escalation in Gaza. As I mentioned earlier, it appears to be linked to the Israeli government’s search for exits to its internal crises,” he said.
 
Asked about the Egyptian mediation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the foreign minister emphasized the continued and “intensive” efforts of Egypt, which he said would finally succeed in convincing Hamas to return to the national legitimacy.
 
On the possibility to have a balancing power to counter the United States, such as the United Nations or the European Union, Maliki said: “Unfortunately, there seems to be nothing that creates such a balance to counter the American blind bias towards the Israeli side, or even indicators of such a mechanism. The President has not ceased to make every effort in that regard.”
 
He noted that Palestine has taken “extremely important” steps at the United Nations General Assembly. “We invited a meeting that gathered many foreign ministers, the United Nations envoys to the peace process and the Security Council member states…There were delegations representing 40 countries, including nine foreign ministers. The debate revolved around the chances of building on the ideas presented by President Mahmoud Abbas on the peace process, the preservation of the two-state solution and the defense of what has been achieved to counter US positions that are biased toward Israel,” he said.
 
Maliki stressed that many countries have expressed their willingness to work with Palestine to save the peace process.
 
“This also gives us the feeling of a good base that is responsive to our proposals, and wants to be part of the collective effort we want, in order to preserve the peace process and save what can be salvaged,” he said.

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