In Brief

Palestinian Liberation Organisation urged to stop recognising Israel

Fallout from US embassy decision could end two-state solution

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation has been urged to suspend its recognition of Israel, as the political fallout from the Trump administration’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital effectively ends the possibility of a two-state solution.

Following a meeting with Palestinian leaders, the PLO Central Council called on the wider organisation, which formally represents all Palestinians, to suspend its recognition of Israel until Israel recognises the state of Palestine, based on borders that existed before the Six-Day War of 1967.

The PLO first officially recognised Israel’s right to exist in 1993 as part of the Oslo peace accords signed by Fatah leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The deal also brought into being the Palestinian Authority, which assumed control of the West Bank and Gaza. It is seen as the high point of the Middle East peace process but has slowly eroded over the past 25 years.

The latest deterioration in relations stems from Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In addition to the Jerusalem decision, “the Trump administration has also threatened to close down offices of the PLO in Washington and attempted to present a peace plan that gave them a suburb of Jerusalem as their capital, instead of the city’s eastern side”, says The Washington Post.

This prompted a defiant speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday in which he called on the Central Council to “revise all the agreements signed between the PLO and Israel because Israel has brought these agreements to a dead end”.

His speech seems to be the final nail in the coffin of the Oslo accords “and reads like a two-state epitaph”, says Ian Black in The Guardian.

In response, the Central Council called on the PLO also to suspend security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, “regarded by both sides as one of the few successfully functioning elements of Oslo”, reports CNN.

The Times of Israel notes that “a previous vote by the council in 2015 to suspend security coordination with Israel was never implemented” - but this time the situation is much more serious.

Formal recognition is crucial. The UN and international community deem Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank since 1967 to be illegal. Nineteen of the 21 UN members in the Arab league, including Saudi Arabia, still have no formal ties with Israel.

Meanwhile, though the majority of UN countries recognise Palestine to some extent, many of the world’s most powerful nations including the UK, US, France and Germany do not acknowledge it as a fully independent sovereign state.

To break the deadlock, the PLO Council has called for a revival of the Arab Peace Initiative. First proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, it offers Israel “normal relations” with Arab countries in exchange for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and the return of Palestinian refugees.

Speaking from Delhi, however, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas was serving Israel’s interests by lashing out against Washington and disregarding the Jewish connection to Israel.

“He exposed what we have been saying all the time, that the root of the conflict is the basic refusal to recognise a Jewish state in any borders,” he added.

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