PA Prime Minister to Israeli Media: ‘No Palestinian State Without Jordan Valley’
In an extremely rare interview, given to Israeli media over the weekend, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah declared that, “There will be no Palestinian state that doesn’t include the Jordan Valley,” Israeli daily Ma’ariv reports.
Hamdallah, 54, was a well-known figure within Palestinian intellectual circles before he was appointed to the post of prime minister. He is considered an independent figure, not a member of the ruling Fatah party. His public stance regarding the ultimate fate of the Jordan Valley is part of a more general protest by the Palestinian Authority to an Israeli bill that seeks to annex the area.
Over the weekend, the PA held its weekly meeting in the Jordan Valley village of Ein Beida – intended to send a clear message about the Palestinian Authority’s claim to the territory.
When asked by Ma’ariv for his reaction to Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation’s recent approval of the bill that would apply Israeli law to Jewish lands and communities in the Jordan Valley, the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister said that the Jordan Valley is, “…integral to the future state. Jordanians have said that, Europeans have said that, and even the United States says it. For us, there is no difference between the Valley and Jerusalem and [we] are not willing to give up on it.”
Hamdallah’s interview was conducted in Ein Beida during the PA’s weekly meeting. Held among the broken tiles of the village council’s plaza, Ma’ariv reports a surreal scene: Hamdallah, a leading Palestinian Authority figure, expressing his views as shiny new vehicles belonging to PA ministers flitter to and fro and military personnel and armed security guards in dark glasses hover menacingly about. All this, while local village children in torn pants ride their dented, dusty old bicycles. This scene personifies the yawning chasm between the haves and have nots in Palestinian society, Ma’ariv said.
Despite the squalor, the Prime Minister told Ma’ariv that the Palestinian Authority has decided to, “invest 15 million shekels to build roads that will connect the Valley’s villages, to assist with local agriculture, education and other fields as well.”
Regarding the ongoing negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Hamdallah asserted that, despite recent comments by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to the effect that the peace talks have failed and there is no point in continuing, “We are committed to continuing negotiations until April… We hope we can reach a positive solution and at the end of the talks we will have a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders with its capital in Jerusalem. We want a two-state solution, the state of Palestine alongside Israel, and we hope that the solution will come as soon as possible. “