The Palestinians will not engage in any political progress that does not meet their minimum rights, namely an independent sovereign Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines, with Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution to the refugee issue, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Wednesday.
He called on Americans to voice their opposition to US President Donald Trump’s policies towards the Palestinians.
Shtayyeh’s remarks came during a meeting in Ramallah with US Senators Mitt Romney and Chris Murphy. It was the second meeting of its kind between Shtayyeh and a US senator in the past 48 hours. On Tuesday, he met in Ramallah with Senator Ron Wyden.
The meetings come as the PA leadership continues its political boycott of the Trump administration. The boycott began after Trump’s December 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the subsequent transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Romney and Murphy inquired about the Palestinian position towards Trump’s upcoming plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “deal of the century.” The senators asked Shtayyeh why the Palestinians were opposed to a plan they had never seen.
Shtayyeh told Romney and Murphy that the decisions Trump has taken thus far could be worse than any plan, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Shtayyeh defended the PA’s policy of paying allowances to families of Palestinian security prisoners and “martyrs” and said that Israel’s deduction of these payments from tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians was “illegal.”
The PA premier said during the meeting that the Palestinians’ refusal to receive the tax revenues after the deductions by Israel “stemmed from national and political” reasons. “Receiving the funds would mean confirming the Israeli claim that we finance terrorism by paying salaries to the families of martyrs and prisoners,” Shtayyeh was quoted as saying.
Shtayyeh also stressed the need for raising American voices in support of the two-state solution and accused the Trump administration of being biased in favor of Israel. He repeated his call to Congress to follow suit with EU and other world parliaments and vote in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said on Wednesday that Israeli-American measures “pose an existential threat to the Palestinian cause.” Ashrawi said during separate meetings with foreign diplomats in Ramallah that Trump’s “deal of the century” and the decisions taken by the US administration were aimed at “ending the Palestinian cause.”
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