RAMALLAH, West Bank – International pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to overhaul its leadership and step up reforms are a distraction from the need for a political horizon to lay the basis for peace after the Gaza war, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said.

In an interview with Reuters, Shtayyeh called for international intervention to end the decades-long conflict, saying that the United States, the country with the most regional clout, had so far failed to use its influence effectively.

“What we need is a day-after for all the Palestinian Territories. What we need is to see an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the materialization and implementation of a two-state (solution),” he said.

Plans for the future in Gaza once Israeli forces end their weeks-long invasion have remained nebulous but there is broad international support for a leading role to be assigned to the Palestinian Authority, which currently exercises limited governance in the occupied West Bank.

However the PA, the body created in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accords, has been plagued by accusations of inefficiency and corruption, with Washington pressing for a shakeup in the leadership around 88-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said repeatedly Washington sees a two state solution, with an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, as the only viable solution.

But he has pressed Abbas to combat corruption, empower civil society and support a free press as well as to revitalize the leadership of an institution whose support among Palestinians has been flagging for years.

Shtayyeh, a close ally of Abbas, who was part of the Palestinian negotiating team at the 1991 Madrid peace conference, said the PA had already put forward its own reform proposals and the focus on internal changes was a diversion.

“For us the issue is: ‘Give us a political horizon,” he said, adding that the U.S. had so far failed to apply the necessary pressure on Israel to fulfil its peace commitments.

    “The Americans when they come here, they don’t have anything to offer. When they don’t have anything to offer they start talking about revitalization of the Palestinian Authority.”

‘PARADOXICAL’

He said the U.S. refusal to allow a United Nations demand for an immediate ceasefire, while at the same time urging Israel to spare civilian lives in Gaza, where more than 18,000 people have been killed, was “paradoxical”.

“This is a paradox that should not be there. The United States can put serious pressure on the Israelis, the United States can tell Israel to stop the war,” he said.

Shtayyeh’s comments came after the U.S. formally vetoed a Security Council demand for a ceasefire, despite a warning from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of a global threat from the two-month-long war.

“Today what is needed is for the Security Council to say with a very clear timetable that this Israeli occupation that has occurred on the Palestinian territories since 1967 should end,” he said. “This is the only way out.”

Shtayyeh called for an immediate ceasefire, saying Gazans were facing starvation and saying emergency air drops of food were needed to avoid catastrophe.

“Our people are starving,” he said. “There are no medical supplies. There is no food.”

Israel has insisted that it will retain security control over Gaza to ensure there is no repeat of the Hamas attack that killed more than 1,200 Israelis and foreigners and led to some 240 being taken into captivity in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also said Israel would not allow Gaza to be run by the Palestinian Authority, saying Israel differed from Washington on the issue of how to manage the “day after Hamas”.

Shtayyeh said U.S. President Joe Biden, Blinken and other American officials speak “with very good political language” about the two-state solution and the end of occupation but that verbal support was not enough.

“What we need from the United States really is some sort of implementable measures. We need Washington to walk the walk, not only to talk the talk. There’s so many measures that Washington can do but has not been doing.” REUTERS



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