The Palestinian leadership will welcome a regional solution to the conflict that begins with the end of Israel’s military rule over the Palestinian territories, a senior Palestinian official said on Monday.
“We are ready for a regional solution that starts with A, ending the occupation, B, ending conflict with Arab countries and C, normalizing with Arab and Muslim countries,” Muhammad Shtayyeh, a Fatah Central Committee member and confidante of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told The Jerusalem Post
Shtayyeh’s comments came on the heels of talk of a regional solution by US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the White House last week.
On Sunday, Haaretz reported that Netanyahu turned down a regional deal that would have allowed for the creation of a Palestinian state and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state under the Obama administration.
At his joint press conference last week with Netanyahu, Trump said that he hopes to achieve a deal based on a formula that incorporates the entire region into the peace process.
“It’s a much bigger deal, a much more important deal in a sense. It would take in many, many countries and cover a large territory… I think its a terrific thing,” Trump said.
Netanyahu echoed Trump’s enthusiasm for a regional approach, saying, “I believe that the great opportunity for peace comes from a regional approach, from involving our newfound Arab partners in pursuit of a broader peace and peace with the Palestinians.”
Shtayyeh said the Palestinian leadership hopes Trump will clarify what exactly he envisions in a regional solution.
“We are talking about an idea that can mean many different things – is Trump talking about a regional solution, where Israel first ends the occupation and then normalizes ties with the Arab and Islamic world, or where Israel normalizes ties with the Arab and Islamic world and does not end the occupation?” he asked. “Netanyahu wishes for normalized relations and security ties with the Arab world without paying the price of ending the occupation – a scenario which is not a solution and [is] destined to fail.”
A regional approach to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict has existed for more than 15 years. The Arab League first initiated a regional approach in 2002, approving a Saudi-led proposal which called for the creation of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 lines, the end of hostilities, a just and agreed-upon resolution to the refugee issue and the establishment of normal relations between Israel and other Middle Eastern countries.
The proposal has come into the spotlight in the past two years, as Israel and some Sunni- majority Arab states have found that they have shared security concerns in terms of their opposition to Iran’s role in the region.