The Malta Independent 7 December 2019, Saturday

We just want our right to self-determination – Palestine’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 14 November 2019, 11:39 Last update: about 22 days ago

While tensions are at a high between Israel and the Palestinian people, The Palestinian Authority’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Amal Jadou told The Malta Independent during an interview that they just want their right to self-determination.

The Deputy Minister was in Malta in order to conduct political consultations with her counterparts at the Maltese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as part of the annual consultations between the two States. The consultations, she said, cover a range of issues, including bilateral relations, relations with the EU, political updates, EU related issues and more, while exploring further avenues of cooperation.

Conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Gaza heated up again recently, when Israel launched an air strike killing top Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata and his wife, which in turn saw salvos of rockets launched from Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip into Israel, and further Israeli air strikes. Reports late Thursday morning read that a ceasefire has now been agreed to, after two days of fighting.

During an interview with The Malta Independent during her visit to Malta, prior to the ceasefire, Jadou was asked for her reaction to the situation.

"A very dear part of Palestine is being shelled and destroyed in war after war by Israel in a small territory that is home to around two million people, living in an open air prison where Israel controls its borders. People are suffering, are put under very inhumane situations and their human rights are being violated on a daily basis."

She said that Israel needs to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories “and allow the Palestinians to live like any other nation, with dignity, in peace, and with their right to self-determination in their own state. So many years of occupation and subjugation need to come to an end."

During the recent conflict, many also deplored the rockets being propelled from Gaza at Israeli’s in retaliation, arguing that it is only contributing to further conflict. 

Asked whether she backed that response by the Palestinians in Gaza, she said:  "I want us to live in peace and security with all of our neighbours.” She again said that Israel “cannot continue with its subjugation of the Palestinian people."

She said that the parties in Gaza were reacting to what Israel had been doing, “the subjugation and the attacks.”

She said she would not describe what was being launched as rockets, “as the Palestinians do not have sophisticated weapons. We only have police forces. In fact when my President calls for the final status, he talks about a demilitarised country, so we are not interested in weapons or attacking any of our neighbours. We just want our right to self-determination."

Asked whether with regards to the retaliation measures that were taken while the conflict raged by the Palestinians in Gaza against the Israelis, her government backed such measures, she said that "the Palestinian government does not have control over Gaza. Gaza is under the government of the defacto authorities of Hamas, and so we do not have control. It was an important issue that the President was pushing for in the reconciliation talks, that we want one government, one law, where it is a unified Palestine that determines issues of war and peace and the movement towards a peaceful solution."

Israel had described Bahaa Abu al-Ata as a terrorist, and also said that the Jihad Islamic terrorists had fired the rockets targeting Israel in the past days. "Israeli security forces will hunt down every terrorist, until our children are secure and safe,"  Israel’s Defence Minister had said while the conflict raged, according to Al Jazeera. 

Israel has said that it had been targeting terrorists, but what kind of action does the Palestinian Deputy Minister believe should have been taken in light of this, instead of airstrikes? 

"Israel is an occupying power. They consider our political prisoners to be terrorists. Between 1967 and now, around one million Palestinians have been in and out of Israeli jails as political prisoners. They cannot all be called terrorists. You cannot call one million Palestinians terrorists. Countries need to respect each other's sovereignty, need to engage in dialogue and diplomacy.  If there are issues then we need to engage and find peaceful solutions to any problem. There needs to be due process to determine what someone is.

"Take me for example, for 14 years I was denied the right to be given a permit to go to Jerusalem for security reasons. It was randomly decided by Israel that I represent a security threat to Israel. So many Palestinians are not allowed to get permits to go to Jerusalem. It is randomly done and you cannot argue it or take legal recourse.  You cannot accuse anyone of something and then just act on it. Somebody who is accused is innocent until proven guilty. How can they determine on their own, without a judicial process, that someone is a terrorist? In addition they do not have sovereignty over us, we are another country, they need to pull their army out of Gaza and its borders, and allow people to live freely, ending the occupation of the Palestinian territory, leaving us live in peace. Then we will have good relations and we can deal with security threats to everyone. That is the way to go. It is not about oppressing or occupying and depriving the people of their dignity, and then when people resist that, they are accused of being a terrorist."

"The Palestinian leadership advocates non-violence as a way to end the occupation, and our calls for the ending of the occupation has been ending on deaf ears in Israel. It is important for the international community to get involved to end the occupation."

Just a few days ago, the President of Palestine shot down US President Donald Trump's peace plan. The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that he had "slapped" the U.S. Administration in the face by rejecting Trump's promised peace plan. Trump has not yet released the plan or said when it will be released, but Abbas accused the White House of being unfairly biased toward Israel.

Asked what the particular issues with the peace plan are, and what would need to change to move forward in that regard, the Deputy Foreign Minister said that they do not know exactly what is in the plan, “as the Americans are not telling anyone about its contents. They have been promising us a plan for the past two and a half years, and we have been waiting. The whole international community has been waiting. However, we know everything that is not in the plan. We know for example that the two-state solution is not in the plan. We also know that Jerusalem - a final status negotiation issue between the parties, is not in the plan. We also know that freezing settlements is not in the plan. We also know that basically, the issue of refugees is not in the plan. We also know that supporting the Palestinian government is not in the plan. So we know everything that is not in the plan because the Americans told us so, as they have taken steps against the globally accepted parameters and the final status issues."

"They are trying to determine the future of each one of these final status issues unilaterally by the steps taken by the President of the United States. Therefore we feel that it is one-sided, and that this US administration has completely aligned itself with the positions of the most right-wing government in Israel."

Therefore no Palestinian can accept a plan that is not in line with international law or the globally accepted parameters of the solution. This is our position, and this is the position of all the countries that have been advocating for a two-state solution and for the final status issues to be negotiated between the parties."

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