Israeli actions, including the development of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, are putting the pursuit of a two-state solution to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict at risk, according to Maen Rashid Areikat, chief representative of the General Delegation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the United States, in the Bunn ICC Auditorium on Thursday.
“The best approach to resolve this conflict is going back to the basics. The basics of freedom, human rights, dignity, security, peace for all,” Areikat said. “If we all can agree that every nation, every people are entitled to the same rights, to the same privileges, to the same freedoms that other nations are entitled to, I believe we can always find a solution to the most difficult issues.”
School of Foreign Service professor Tamara Sonn, the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in the History of Islam, introduced Areikat, who addressed a crowd of about 150.
Areikat said the United States, under President Donald J. Trump’s administration, must work with Israel to pursue a two-state solution. Areikat criticized the Trump administration’s reported efforts to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which both Palestine and Israel claim as their capital.
“They will only embolden Israel to be more aggressive and to rely on the logic of power instead of the power of logic in dealing with its neighbors and resolving conflicts,” Areikat said.
While promoting a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Areikat blamed the strife’s perpetuity on Israeli intransigence, suggesting that a continuation of Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank could lead to a failure of the two-state solution.
Both Israel and Palestine have said a two-state solution, with an independent State of Israel and State of Palestine, is their preferred solution to the conflict. The two sides, however, have been unable to agree on border placement, among other issues, in attempts to strike a deal.
“We still believe that a two-state solution is the most ideal outcome for any political negotiations with Israel,” Areikat said. “Israelis and Palestinians must be separated in order for them—especially Palestinians—to develop their own national identity away from occupation and oppression, and for Israelis to reap the fruits of the peace and security that they have long desired.”
The PLO officially recognized the right of Israel to exist in the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. According to Areikat, Palestine does not pose a danger to Israel.
However, Areikat said the only path to stability for Israel in the region is a settlement with Palestine.
“Israel’s security will be guaranteed if they make peace with the Palestinians who are going to share the land with them. They cannot make peace with any other Arab countries if they cannot make peace with us. They will never enjoy security,” Areikat said. “It’s not because we are threatening them; it’s because there will be no stability if we Palestinians do not feel that we are getting our rights back.”
Delta Phi Epsilon, Georgetown’s professional foreign service fraternity, arranged the event, but as an unrecognized student group without access to benefits, needed Sonn to reserve the auditorium.
Areikat said Arabs and Palestinians prioritize resolving this conflict, even if some Israel advocates say surrounding Arab nations do not care about it as much as other conflicts in the region.
“No matter what Israel tries to portray that Arab countries are busy and the Palestinian issue is on the backburner – maybe that applies to some Arab governments, but it does not apply to the Arab masses who continue to believe that the Palestinian people are an oppressed people who need to win their freedom,” Areikat said. “We continue to extend our hands for peace, but it takes two to tango.”
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