JERUSALEM: Nabil Shaath, senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has said it would be a mistake to belittle suggestions Israel could take control of new areas in the West Bank. On Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped to annex the Jordan Valley and land north of the Dead Sea following upcoming elections, should he be able to form a government.
“It would be a mistake to look at this only as electioneering,” Shaath said in an exclusive interview with Arab News. “While this is not new to Netanyahu it is important to know that he is not different from his opponents, he is simply pushing the Zionist ideology with support from the Trump administration.”
Shaath explained that what Netanyahu is proposing is the heart of Zionist ideology: “They want the land without the people.”
The Palestinian president, and other senior Palestinian, Arab and international leaders have denounced Netanyahu and his pledge to annex the Jordan Valley.
“All signed agreements with Israel will have to end, if Israeli sovereignty is applied over the Jordan Valley, the northern part of the Dead Sea or any part of the occupied Palestinian territories,” Abbas said, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Shaath, a former foreign minister, told Arab News that Israel required a strong response. “We need a unified effort and effective strategy. We need the Arab world, Muslim countries, Europe and others to stand with us to stop this effort destroying the two-state solution.”
Ghassan Khatib, director of the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC), said that Palestinian support for the two-state solution was down — just 39.3 percent of respondents to a recent JMCC poll considered it a viable solution, with people in Gaza (46.4 percent) more optimistic than those in the West Bank (34.5 percent).
Furthermore, 28.8 percent said they preferred a bi-national state over all of historical Palestine.
“In Gaza, where there are no (Israeli) settlements, there is higher support for the two-state solution whereas in the West Bank Palestinians see the dangers that the settlements pose,” Khatib told Arab News.
“If this threat if executed, there will be more distancing between the two sides. Israelis and Palestinians will pay the price for this policy because it will become a de facto apartheid situation.”