UNITED NATIONS — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has urged European nations to sanction Israel for illegally grabbing Palestinian land, saying the US Trump administration’s expected peace plan will do nothing to bring about Middle East peace.
Speaking with Mondoweiss at United Nations headquarters on Thursday, Maliki said he had almost no hope of getting a fair offer for peace between Palestinians and Israelis under US President Donald Trump.
Europeans have spoken up for the Palestinians in recent decades, Maliki said, but that has not stopped 420,000 Israeli settlers from moving to the West Bank and forcing Palestinians to abandon their homes since the early 1990s.
“It shows such statements coming from Europe and beyond [are] becoming ineffective and this has made the Israelis immune to such statements. We don’t need further condemnations and solidarity, but to see and to take certain responsible steps,” Maliki said.
“They have to start thinking about sanctions, boycotting, Israeli policies, actions, the relationship, review their strategic bilateral relations with Israel — as [the] European Union and as individual countries.”
Maliki did not specify whether he was referring to a trade embargo or specific sanctions on Israeli officials, such as travel bans or asset freezes. It remained unclear whether European leaders would consider such moves.
Palestinian officials say the EU could also host an international conference on Palestinian issues, and that some of the bloc’s key members — including France, Italy, Spain and Portugal — could recognize the state of Palestine.
Maliki spoke with Mondoweiss after addressing informal UN Security Council talks on Israeli settlements Thursday that were attended by US Middle East peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt, who is set to release the US peace proposal next month.
At that meeting, Maliki said Washington’s so-called “Deal of the Century” was tantamount to Palestinians raising a white flag. Palestinian sovereignty was not for sale, regardless of how much money on offer, he added.
“This is not a peace plan but rather conditions for surrender,” Maliki said as the US’s Middle East peace negotiator, Greenblatt, listened on. “And there is no amount of money that can make it acceptable.”
Greenblatt and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner have spent two years developing a peace proposal that they say could provide a framework for fresh talks between Israelis and Palestinians. The plan is expected to be unveiled in June, after Ramadan.
Their proposal, which has been delayed for a variety of reasons these past 18 months is expected to address core political issues, such as the status of Jerusalem, and seek to boost the flailing Palestinian economy.
Addressing the UN’s top body, Greenblatt, formerly one of Trump’s real estate lawyers, told diplomats that Washington was a sincere broker of peace but that negotiators had to break out of decades-old dogma.
“The vision for peace that we will soon put forward will be realistic and implementable, but it will require compromises from both sides,” Greenblatt told the UN meeting, which was organized by Indonesia.
“We genuinely hope both the Israelis and Palestinians will take a real look at our vision for peace when we release it, before any unilateral steps are taken.”
The Palestinians have dismissed US efforts since Trump decided in 2017 to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in 1967.
In his address, Greenblatt did not use the phrase “two-state solution”, a bedrock of Israeli-Palestinian talks for decades. Envoys from other members of the 15-nation body voiced support for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Kushner, who was a real estate developer before joining Trump, his father-in-law, in the White House, has said the proposal is not an effort to impose US will on the region. He has not said whether it calls for a two-state solution.
Speaking with Mondoweiss after the meeting, Maliki said Greenblatt’s contribution was one-sided.
“I felt I was listening to an Israeli speaker. I didn’t see or hear an independent American position. The role of the US administration is … to be a servant to Israeli interests and defend Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinians,” Maliki told Mondoweiss.
“We are coping with it, and the international community is starting to realise that the American position has been hijacked by a small interest group within the US administration to serve Israeli interests and nothing more.”