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Palestinian Prime Minister Stresses 2-State Solution; Calls Gaza ‘Integral,’ Condemns ‘Genocide’

Toshiyuki Fukushima / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks in an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun at the prime minister’s office in Ramallah, West Bank, on Tuesday.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Establishing a Palestinian state is the only way for Palestinians and Israelis to coexist, the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told The Yomiuri Shimbun in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

“There is no other option. For the Palestinians, Arabs, the region, Europe, U.S., Japan and China, all international communities, they believe in the two-state solution,” Shtayyeh said at the prime minister’s office in Ramallah in the Palestinian-governed West Bank, calling for an international conference on the issue. “We need practical specific steps for the implementation of the two-state [solution].”

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has shown a negative stance toward a two-state solution, Shtayyeh appealed to the international community to recognize the establishment of a Palestinian state.

He is a close aide of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and has served as the prime minister, the No. 2 position, since March 2019.

Shtayyeh pointed out that Israel and the Palestinians have been negotiating for 30 years since the Oslo Accords of 1993, which declared principles on Palestinian interim self-government. Given the current state of stagnation in negotiations, he said, “We are fed up with this slogan,” urging practical action for the two-state solution.

He said that the Palestinian Authority, with its functioning ministries and local administration, has the capacity to function as a state, and called for the international community to recognize Palestine as a state and then admit it to U.N. membership.

‘Fully responsible’ for Gaza

Shtayyeh expressed his intention to actively commit to governing Gaza after the fighting ends.

“Gaza is an integral part of Palestine. Our people in Gaza are Palestinian. We are fully responsible for our people in Gaza,” he said.

Calling what is happening in Gaza “a genocide,” he said he has been urging the United States, Europe, Qatar and Egypt to work on achieving a ceasefire.

The United States and other countries have recognized that the involvement of the Palestinian Authority is essential for the governance of Gaza after the fighting.

Palestinian PM: 2-state solution only option

However, Netanyahu has indicated that he will not let the Palestinian Authority be involved in governing Gaza after the fighting ends, saying that the authority does not condemn terrorism, referring to last October’s cross-border attack by the Hamas militant group, which effectively controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Shtayyeh stressed his intention to lead the reconstruction effort, saying, “We have a comprehensive plan for the reconstruction of Gaza.”

Regarding the United States, which has been leading Middle East peace negotiations, he opined that the country cannot be a fair mediator.

“Off course not. … Washington [has a] full strategic alliance with Israel,” Shtayyeh said.

He emphasized the need to involve Europe, Arab countries and Japan, in addition to the United States, in peace negotiations.

“For us, without Washington there will be no solution. With Washington only, there will be no solution. That’s why we want an international conference.”

Government reform

The Palestinian Authority has been accused of serious corruption, and no elections to the authority’s legislative council (equivalent to a parliament) have been held since 2006. Its undemocratic governance has been criticized by the international community.

Shtayyeh said that the authority has presented a reform plan to the international community and is working on it with Norway and the United States, which have mediated peace in the Middle East.

He recognized that a legislative council election is the “most important” agenda item, but said that an election cannot be held as Israel will not allow it to be held in East Jerusalem.

He thanked Japan for being “a friend for Palestine,” and expressed hope that Japan will provide its expertise and technology for the reconstruction of Gaza and the West Bank.