AU Palestine

AU leaders reject US Middle East Peace plan during summit

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh addresses the opening of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 9, 2020.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh addresses the opening of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

It might be the African Union, but high on the agenda at the opening of this week's AU summit in Addis Ababa was the Middle East as declarations were made against the proposed US Middle East Peace Proposal in solidarity with Palestinians.


US President Donald Trump called it the “Deal of the century”.

However, during the opening of the AU Summit in the Ethiopian capital on Sunday, it was ripped to pieces as the head of the AU, Moussa Faki Mahamat said it had been “conceived and elaborated outside of any international consideration, and worse still, in absence of the main concerns of the Palestinians.”

The deal essentially would create a truncated Palestine, surrounded by Israel’s territory and with pockets of Jewish settlements. One expert went as far as to compare it to the British Balfour declaration of 1917; the very thing that started the whole process towards an Israeli state.

Even stronger were the words from South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his first speech as this year’s sitting chairman of the AU.

“It brought to mind a horrible history that we as South Africans have gone through. The apartheid regime once imposed a Bantustan type of system on the people of South Africa, without consultation with them, and with all the oppressive elements that the plan had. As I listened to the Arab League, and as I listened to our colleagues from Palestine, it sound like this plan.”

Unequivocal rejection

“The plan gives Israel all what it wants, does not give the Palestinians really anything. It’s not only that, it gives Jerusalem to Israel. It does fully and totally put aside the solution for the refugees. It does create a Palestinian disconnected geography,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told RFI on the sidelines of the summit.

Since 2013, Palestinians have been granted observer status at the AU.

“It was fully coordinated with the Israelis, it was drafted with the Israelis and the Palestinians have never been consulted,” added the Prime Minister.

Another plan rejected

The Palestinians have rejected previous plans, with the most recent one in 2008 with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. “Abu Mazen [also called Mahmoud Abbas], our president, had negotiated with Olmert. It was serious, but Olmert was put in jail for corruption and so on and so forth,” explains Shtayyeh.

Other plans rejected also include one in 2000 as presented by US President Bill Clinton, known as the Clinton Parameters, along with the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Camp David Accords in 1978, and the first one proposed in 1947 by UN Resolution 181: the Partition Resolution.

Missed opportunity, again?

Israeli diplomat Abba Eban is known for his comment that “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” But while the phrase is catchy, it oversimplifies the reality.

“This sort of thesis is unfair,” says Shtayyeh. “Palestinians have never rejected a serious offer. Palestinians have negotiated in good faith, with all Israeli leaders….unfortunately the process has been fully sabotaged by Israeli measures.”

Israeli measures that include “destroying every single process by more colonisation, more settlements, more settlers, house demolitions, arresting our people and so on and so forth.”

Non-US mediator

“Obviously [the] United States cannot be an objective mediator,” states the PM matter-of-factly.

The European Union is a possibility, given they are neither on the side of the Palestinians nor of the Israelis, but rather “on the side to peace and justice for all.”

That could open up to also include Russia - "the quartet could stretch as far as Russia, the quartet [EU, Russia, UN, the US], plus the BRICS countries [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa]."

It doesn’t really matter who, so long as the main objective remains “ending occupation and nothing else. The details are minor issues, but the major issue is the occupation.”

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