Palestinians reject partial annexation, warn of PA collapse

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PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat told the PA’s Palestine TV that Israel and the US have “resorted to a number of tactics” regarding the annexation plan.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat looks on during a news conference following his meeting with foreign diplomats, in Ramallah, West Bank January 30, 2019 (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat looks on during a news conference following his meeting with foreign diplomats, in Ramallah, West Bank January 30, 2019

(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

The Palestinians are opposed to Israel’s plan to apply its sovereignty to any parts of the West Bank, even if it’s a “partial annexation,” the Palestinian Authority said on Sunday.

“The Palestinians reject the American-Israeli annexation plan, whether its complete or partial,” said Nabil Abu Rudaineh, PA information minister and spokesman for the PA presidency.

Abu Rudaineh, who was responding to unconfirmed reports that claimed that the Palestinians have been holding discussions with the Americans about the planned annexation, said that “any dialogue should be based on a two-state solution to end the occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders, international legitimacy resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Abu Rudaineh did not confirm or deny the reports concerning Palestinian-American contacts.

The Palestinian national position, he added, is “clear and consistent.”

Abu Rudaineh again warned that if Israel proceeds with its plan to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, “it must assume full responsibility [over the West Bank] as an Occupying Power.”

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat also rejected the talk about a “partial annexation.”

The idea of annexation, Erekat said, “not only violates international law, but destroys all rules governing relations during conflicts. Any annexation is considered a violation of international law and a war crime.”

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Erekat told the PA’s Palestine TV that Israel and the US have “resorted to a number of tactics” regarding the annexation plan.

“The first tactic was when we were told that differences have erupted in the US administration over the plan, with some supporting it, while others are opposed,” Erekat said. “The second tactic was when they said that there would be a meeting in the White House to discuss the plan. The third tactic was when they announced that [US Mideast envoy Avi] Bekovitz would travel to Israel to discuss the plan. The fourth tactic was when they started talking about differences between [Defense Minister Benny] Gantz and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu about the annexation. The fifth tactic is when they started talking about whether the annexation would be complete or partial or symbolic or even delayed.”

According to Erekat, these “tactics aim to legalize the annexation.” He said that there was no difference between the annexation of “one inch of Palestinian land or the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.”

Erekat condemned US President Donald Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, also known as the “Deal of the Century,” as a “plan for annexation and apartheid.” The “tactics” that are currently taking place are designed to implement the Trump plan, he argued.

“Why are we saying that there’s no difference between the annexation of one inch or the whole West Bank? Because if Netanyahu decides to annex Ma’aleh Adumim or Ariel or Gush Etzion, it would mean that these areas are non-negotiable,” Erekat said. “According to the Trump plan, there are no borders and there’s no Palestine. The principle of annexation means burying international laws and treaties, as well as signed agreements [with Israel]. There’s no difference between the annexation of 33% or 10% of the West Bank.”

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Referring to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to renounce all agreements and understandings with Israel, including security coordination, Erekat clarified that the PA president did not say that he was “canceling” these agreements.

“President Abbas said that if Israel imposes the annexation and negates the agreements, the Palestinians won’t be the only party that would commit to the agreements,” Erekat said. “Abbas said that if that happens, the Palestinians would be absolved of their commitment to all the agreements, including security understandings. If Israel implements the annexation, one centimeter or 100%, that would mean the destruction of the Palestinian Authority. Accordingly, Netanyahu will be responsible for collecting the garbage in Jericho, Jerusalem, Rafah, Khan Yunis, Hebron and Nablus. He will have to fully assume responsibility as an occupying power in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Erekat claimed that Netanyahu and Trump want the PA’s role to be limited only to providing services to the Palestinian public. “They want the Palestinian Authority to be part of, and a tool for, implementing the apartheid plan, which would turn [Palestinian communities] into enclaves. The Palestinian Authority’s role is to transit the Palestinians from occupation to independence, and not to contribute to the perpetuation of the occupation.”

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