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Tuesday, February 13, 2018
PA FM: Palestine Ready for Direct Talks With Israel via Russia

Palestine Ready for Direct Talks With Israel - Minister
19:00 13.02.2018(updated 19:23 13.02.2018)

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Palestine is currently seeking experts' advice and is
considering legal options in case Israel and the United States choose to
derail negotiations on the Israel-Palestine settlement, Palestine Foreign
Minister Riyad Maliki told Sputnik in an interview.

"We are asking an advice of many internationally recognized legal experts to
help us also to focus on different specific legal tracks and to see what
could we do in the near future when it comes to this, you know, if the
negotiations track is closed by the rejection of Israel and the United
States, that means that they are not leaving us with many options but to
focus on the legal one," Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki said.

Maliki emphasized that Palestine has signed over 100 international
conventions and agreements with certain conditions on how member states
should or could act.

"Absolutely, we are ready for direct talks through a third party, of course…
We do not think that taking Israel for 15 minutes reunion in Jerusalem will
do that. We think that this will be a disaster. We think, you know,
probably, coming to Sochi or maybe to Moscow could be the right one, if
Netanyahu is willing to do so, you know, it's only a flight of three hours,
and he will enjoy, of course, the hospitality of president Putin and the
Russian people. So, I advise the Israeli ambassador to look into it and to
show the positive attitude," Maliki said.

According to Maliki, Palestine may ask the International Criminal Court
(ICC) to investigate Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank or
could go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or courts within
different countries to hold Israel responsible for its actions.

"First of all, Israel represents an occupying power… and this is something
we should really address maybe through the ICJ. When it comes to the
criminal actions committed by the Israeli government then we could back to
the ICC, when it comes to some actions taken by Israel like trying to sell
settlement products then we will go to the European court, or to the
national country courts," he explained.

Israeli Ambassador to Russia Harry Koren told journalists that Israel
welcomed the earlier Russian plan on conducting a direct meeting between the
Palestinian leader and the Israeli prime minister, saying, however, that the
Palestinian side, in general, is "not in the mood for a direct contact" as
Abbas declined to come to Jerusalem, which is 15-minutes' drive away from
Ramallah, on Netanyahu's invitation.

Nabil Shaath, the foreign affairs adviser of Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas, told Sputnik that some officials within the Palestinian National
Authority were discussing the option of terminating the administration of
the autonomy and let Israel bear the full attack of running the occupied
West Bank.

"No, you know, the current status of the Palestinian Authority was created
by Oslo agreements and was supposed to end in 1999 with moving into a
full-fledged state. This did not happen, so obviously, if we want to move
from where we are, we are not talking about a regression to the status, we
should really talk about how we can really move closer to the state which
was given to us by the [UN] resolution of November 29, 2012, 67/19, which
says that the state of Palestine is under occupation," Maliki said.

Commenting on Shaath's words, the foreign minister stressed that these were
referring to the mood of some in the administration who are unsatisfied with
the fact that Israel continues to occupy the West Bank but does not pay any
of the costs while refusing to move closer to the two-state solution.

"This really a discussion that continues to be heard within the Palestinian
circles just to give back Israel full responsibilities of the occupation and
let them really face all this financial and others security challenges," he
said, accentuating that the main objective was although to "move forward" to
declaring a full-fledged Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority, formed in 1994 a year after Israel and the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) reached the Oslo Accords was
initially supposed to be a temporary body ruling Palestine as an autonomy
for a five-year period while the final status of Palestine is settled. The
body has control over civilian and security matters in urban areas and only
civilian matters in rural areas.

The PLO seeks the establishment of a state on the territories of the West
Bank, including East Jerusalem, which is partly controlled by Israel, and
the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government refuses to acknowledge Palestine as
an independent political and diplomatic entity and continues to build
foundations in occupied areas, despite objections from the United Nations.
Peace efforts began in the 1970s, culminating in the 2003 roadmap for peace
proposed by the Middle East Quartet. Since then the two-state solution has
been the main objective for mediators.

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