PA Prime Minster Calls on US to Sanction Settlement Products
Palestinian Authority Prime MInister Mohammad Shtayyeh takes questions from the Foreign Press Association at the Office of the Prime Minister in Ramallah in the West Bank on November 10, 2021. (Mohammad Al-Kassim/The Media Line)

PA Prime Minster Calls on US to Sanction Settlement Products

Mohammad Shtayyeh says the Biden administration "does not need permission from Israel" to reopen its consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem

For more than 90 minutes, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told a packed hall of foreign reporters that the current political and financial situation is “very difficult.”

Shtayyeh during the briefing in Ramallah on Wednesday discussed the PA’s relations with the United States, the reopening of the US consulate in Jerusalem, West Bank settlements, lack of international aid, and Israeli-Palestinian ties under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

He said that the United States “does not need permission from Israel” to reopen its consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem, calling on Washington to impose sanctions on settlements and resume direct financial aid to the PA.

US President Joe Biden had pledged during his campaign to reopen the consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem, closed under former President Donald Trump, who also recognized the holy city as the capital of Israel, a decision that has enraged the Palestinians.

Israel has rejected any US plans to reopen its consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid suggested over the weekend locating the consulate in Ramallah in the West Bank, the current seat of the PA government.

“Ramallah is not Jerusalem, Ramallah is not the capital of Palestine. For us the reopening of the consulate in east Jerusalem has great political significance,” Shtayyeh responded, adding: “We want this consulate in Jerusalem to be the future US embassy for the State of Palestine.”

Shtayyeh didn’t hide the fact that international financial assistance has dropped to only 10 percent of what the PA used to receive, calling the situation “very difficult.”

He said that the PA suffered tremendously under the former US administration on both the political and financial fronts.

For us the reopening of the consulate in east Jerusalem has great political significance. We want this consulate in Jerusalem to be the future US embassy for the State of Palestine.

Shtayyeh met with a delegation of US Congress members in Ramallah on Wednesday.

“In the past, the United States helped us to close our budget deficit and today I asked members of Congress to help us in this direction,” Shtayyeh said, a day after the World Bank warned of the severity of the Palestinian deficit, which is expected to reach $1.36 billion in 2021.

Shtayyeh answered a question posed by The Media Line about the relationship between the PA and the Biden administration, saying that it is looking up and is “warm.”

“The warmth was in the phone call, and the warmth was in the promises. And it’s still our hope that promises will be fulfilled. And as I said, one item was fulfilled and that is the refunding of UNRWA,” he said.

The prime minister said that the PA understands the US strategy of not announcing the reopening of the consulate.

“We understand that the administration has waited for the Israelis to pass their budget, and we are hoping that the consulate will be open before the end of the year or whenever they choose,” he said.

Shtayyeh reasserted the PA’s position on the reopening of the US diplomatic mission, saying that “the consulate has to be opened.”

“We have good statements about settlements, but as we have made it very clear, in Europe and to the American administration in Congress, that condemnation statements are not enough,” he said.

Shtayyeh urged the international community to take a stronger stance on settlements, saying that “Israel does what it wants.”

“The United States and Europe have all the economic weight that they can put behind their political statement, especially when it comes to the settlements,” he said.

Israelis with dual nationalities, with European passports, should not continue to be present in the settlements that have been built illegally, illegitimately, in illegally occupied Palestinian territory

He called on the US to sanction Israeli businesses dealing with settlements and urged the European Union to forbid Israelis with European passports from living in Jewish settlements.

“Israelis with dual nationalities, with European passports, should not continue to be present in the settlements that have been built illegally, illegitimately, in illegally occupied Palestinian territory,” Shtayyeh said.

He urged Washington to follow Europe’s lead and impose sanctions on settlement products. “Europe, we are grateful to them, they did label settlements products,” he said.

Shtayyeh also denied reports about forming a Fatah-Hamas unity government anytime soon. And he blamed Israel for delaying the Palestinian elections that had been scheduled for earlier this year.

Shtayyeh criticized FIFA President Gianni Infantino for his recent call to hold soccer’s World Cup in Israel and Saudi Arabia, saying that “football shouldn’t be politicized.”

The Palestinian Football Association rejected Infantino’s statement, and last month refused to meet with him following his participation in a ceremony held at the ruins of an ancient Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem.

The association said Infantino’s participation in the ceremony “politicized sports and does not serve the cause of peace or tolerance.”

 

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