PA official: Annexation would be the 'smoking gun' that ends two-state solution

PA envoy to the UK skeptical about Biden's pledge to restore aid to PA.

Elad Benari ,

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaks at United Nations in New York
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas speaks at United Nations in New York

Israeli efforts to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria would mark a turning point in Israeli-Palestinian relations, the Palestinian Authority (PA) envoy to the UK Husam Zomlot warned on Tuesday.

“For those who believe in the…two-state solution, I think for us annexation would mark the smoking gun and the end of that paradigm,” Zomlot said during a webcast hosted by the Israel Policy Forum, according to Jewish Insider.

Commenting on PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to end all agreements with Israel, including the security coordination, Zomlot said, “The train has left the station.” He added that the PA had waited to see if there would be a change in the Israeli leadership following the election in March, describing the strategy as “buying constructive time” before reassessing the situation and determining next moves.

“But with this [new] coalition that even includes Labor, I don’t think there is a lot to contemplate on. There is nothing left for second guessing,” he continued.

Zomlot added that the announcement on sovereignty alone serves as the point of no return for the Palestinian government. “Once it’s announced by the government, we consider annexation to have happened,” he stated. “Business cannot go back as usual.”

Zomlot also commented on recent statements made by former Vice President Joe Biden, who warned Israel against applying sovereignty.

The PA diplomat said that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee did not include a course of action against Israel to “dissuade” it from moving forward.

“If Netanyahu doesn’t hear or feel the words ‘sanctions, consequences,’ his calculus will continue and he will do the annexation,” Zomlot said. “If we cannot actually call for sanctions now to prevent this beast called annexation from destroying everything, I think we are doomed.”

Zomlot also told participants that “no Palestinian leader will agree” to resume peace talks with Israel under a hypothetical Biden administration if Israel moves forward with the sovereignty move.

“I think the headache that Mr. Biden will inherit once he is elected — if he is elected — will be immense, and I don’t believe he can actually bring about an end to this conflict by another process. It would have been over,” he said.

Zomlot also reserved judgment regarding Biden’s pledge earlier this month to reopen the US consulate in eastern Jerusalem and the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington, which were shuttered by the Trump administration, and resume financial ascites to the PA.

Zomlot, who served as the PLO’s chief representative to the US until he was recalled to Ramallah in 2018, told Jewish Insider “it’s too early” to take Biden’s commitments at face value.

“If any American administration will go back to the fundamentals of the peace process — the five permanent status issues: Jerusalem, refugees, borders, including the issues of settlements and political prisoners — without tampering with them or dictating any of these terms, of course we will engage,” he said. “But if Biden comes back with these gestures, without really reinstating the fundamentals that Netanyahu has worked so hard to destroy, I think it will be a waste of time.”