Middle East Monitor / June 29, 2020
The Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Saeb Erekat, on Saturday warned Arab countries against taking any steps to normalise relations with Israel in return for the latter abolishing its plans to annex the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley.
Erekat said in statements to the official Palestine TV that talk about any normalisation of relations between Arabs and Israel in exchange for the abolishment of the annexation plans is wrong and unacceptable.
He continued that relations between Arabs and the Israeli occupation depend on the latter’s commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative, which stipulates the occupation’s withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967, the occupied Golan, and the resolution of the refugee issue.
The Arab Peace Initiative, approved by the Arab League in 2002, stipulates the establishment of an internationally recognised Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, a just resolution to the issue of Palestinian refugees, the Israeli occupation’s withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and the lands that are still occupied in the south Lebanon, in return for the Arab countries’ recognition of the occupation state, and the normalisation of relations with it.
“Our interest and position as Arabs require our unity and solidarity,” said Erekat, addressing the Arab countries.
With the exception of Egypt and Jordan, no Arab country has diplomatic relations with Israel. However, the pace of normalisation has increased over the past decade, especially from countries in the Gulf.
Erekat stressed that “if Israel implements the annexation of Palestinian lands, it must assume its responsibility on the ground.”
“[Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu will be responsible for collecting garbage in Rafah, Jerusalem, and Hebron, and he will bear his full responsibility as an occupying power,” added Erekat.
In response to the Israeli annexation plan, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced last month that the PLO is cancelling agreements with Israel.
Netanyahu has announced on several occasions that his government wants to start the annexation process, which will include 30 per cent of the West Bank, on 1 July. Politicians from governments from across the world and the UN have denounced the plan calling it “entirely unacceptable”.
Earlier this month, UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba, warned Israel that annexation would destroy any hopes for rapprochement between the Zionist state and the Arab world.