Israel rejects international calls for Palestinian statehood


February 19, 2024


Israel rejects international calls for Palestinian statehood

A picture taken in the village of Turmus Ayya near Ramallah city shows the nearby Israeli Shilo settlement in the background, in the occupied West Bank/AFP

TEL AVIV: Israel has rejected international calls, including from its chief ally, the United States, for “unilateral recognition” of Palestinian statehood, saying any such agreement could only be reached through negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought what he called a “declaratory decision” on Palestinian statehood before his Cabinet, which unanimously approved it.

The statement declared that the Jewish state “categorically rejects international edicts on a permanent arrangement with the Palestinians.”

Efforts to achieve a two-state solution — an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza on either side of Israel — have been stalled since 2014.

But with the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza now in its fifth month, the U.S. and other countries have renewed calls for the creation of a Palestinian state to end the fighting.

U.S. President Joe Biden has called for an even broader Middle East agreement that would encompass Saudi Arabia and other Arab states normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel.

In rejecting Palestinian statehood, Israel said in a statement that such recognition, coming after the shock October 7 Hamas attack on Israel “will grant a huge, unprecedented reward to terrorism and prevent any future peace accord.”

Netanyahu has vowed to continue fighting Hamas militants until it achieves “absolute victory.”

The U.S. has tried, unsuccessfully so far, to broker a new cease-fire and the release of the 100 or so hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza.

Netanyahu has said that Hamas’ demands are “delusional” that Israel withdraw its troops from Gaza and leave the militants in control of the territory with the capability to rebuild its arsenal.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement that the U.S. would veto an Algerian plan likely to come before the U.N. Security Council this week calling for an immediate cease-fire.

She said the U.S. wants “a sustainable resolution” to the Gaza conflict which would bring an immediate and sustained period of calm to Gaza for at least six weeks, and from which “we could then take the time and the steps to build a more enduring peace.”

She said the plan the U.S. has been working on with input from Israel, Egypt, Qatar and others “represents the best opportunity to reunite all hostages with their families and enable a prolonged pause in fighting, that would allow for more lifesaving food, water, fuel, medicine, and other essentials to get into the hands of Palestinian civilians who desperately need it.”

She said the Algerian plan would not achieve the same results and “may run counter to them.” Thomas-Greenfield said if the Algerian plan were to come up for a vote, “it will not be adopted.”

Meanwhile, the fighting in Gaza rages on. Medics and witnesses said Israeli strikes across Gaza killed at least 18 people overnight and into Sunday.

One airstrike in Rafah, near the Egyptian border in southern Gaza, killed a woman and three children, and another strike killed five men in Khan Younis.