(GPA) On May 29th, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announced his willingness to work towards a statehood solution for Palestinians. But with new plans to massively expand West Bank settlements, it seems more and more less likely that this promise will come to fruition– at least in a reasonable manner.
Netanyahu announced on Monday his willingness to negotiate the 2002 Arab initiative that would grant Palestinians statehood in return for Israeli diplomatic recognition from Arab countries. This announcement was technically a response to Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who has recently expressed willingness to “warm relations” so long as Israel puts forth an effort to resume peace talks. El-Sisi met with John Kerry last month to discuss problems in Libya and the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
El-Sisi emphasized Egypt isn’t the only player in these Israeli/Palestinian negotiations and states Egypt will not necessarily play a leading role but whichever role leads to “progress.” “In Egypt, we do not intend on playing a leading role or to be leaders of this issue, but we are prepared to exert all efforts that will contribute to finding a solution to this problem,” el-Sisi said. It’s been rumored that a number of Arab states– including Saudi Arabia– are working towards normalizing relations with Israel as a group effort to revive the 2002 Saudi peace initiative. Palestinian official, Hazem Abu Shanab, a senior member of the Revolutionary Council of Fattah says these types of negotiations are a “stab in the back” for all Palestinians.
Reviving the 2002 Arab peace initiative isn’t the only idea being thrown around right now. An international conference is scheduled for June 3rd in Paris to discuss peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians– which has gotten virtually no attention from the Western mainstream media. Netanyahu has adamantly rejected the French talks stating any peace talks should take place directly between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. “If you really want to help launch peace, then help us launch direct negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas,” he stated at a press conference last week. Hamas also has reportedly rejected the conference.
But recent efforts to seek Palestinian justice or statehood might be too little too late. Diplomats and international monitors are worried consequences from expanding Israeli settlements throughout occupied land might be irreversible. Indeed, Israel has once again “remapped” the West Bank– this time 15,000 acres– for quite possibly the largest settlement expansion yet. This appears to be a last minute effort on Israel’s behalf to swoop up as much land as possible before having to negotiate anything concrete with the Palestinians, Arab leaders, or international community.
The peace talks are expected to take place June 3rd in Paris between the United States, France, and other leaders. Neither Israeli’s nor Palestinians have been invited to the talks.
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