Erekat on the 40th anniversary of Israeli occupation

Press Releases
June 05, 2007

Today, Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat commented on the occasion of forty years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Syrian Golan Heights.

He called it a “grim milestone” and said that “Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs, and the international community should bow their heads in shame for allowing the conflict to steal the hope and promise of so many generations.”

Mr. Erekat stressed that it was important for the concerned parties not to get “trapped in recriminations over mistakes that we’ve all made.” Instead, he called upon Israelis, Palestinians, and the international community to “imagine what forty years of reconciliation could be like; forty years in which both Israelis and Palestinians could forge the beginnings of long lasting peace while ridding the region of this pernicious conflict.”

Mr. Erekat said the renewed Arab Peace Initiative, originally proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, provides the framework since it offers Israel a comprehensive peace with the Arab states in exchange for full withdrawal to the 1967 borders and a just and agreed solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees.

Mr. Erekat warned, however, that increased Israeli settlement activity and Wall construction—all deemed illegal under international law—as well as Israel’s continuing suffocation of the Gaza Strip and Palestinian institutions threaten to “imminently destroy any hopes of a two-state solution.”

Mr. Erekat stressed that he believed the 1948 War, which led to the exile of three-quarters of the Palestinian inhabitants in what became the state of Israel, and the 1967 War are not over, but in fact “are nearing their dangerous conclusions today.”

He called on Israel to unequivocally “accept the historic offer of the Arab states in word and in deed, accept the two-state solution, and accept peace.” He said doing so “would likely usher in a new era of peace, cooperation, and prosperity throughout the Middle East.”

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