By Kaamil Ahmed
Arab countries must reaffirm their support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in exchange for normalized relations with Israel, a leading Palestinian politician told reporters in Ramallah on Monday.
Jibril Rajoub, secretary-general of the Fatah movement (the leading faction within the Palestinian Authority), said Arab leaders should use this week's Arab League summit in Jordan to clarify their respective positions in response to comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding a “regional” solution to the conflict.
"We must ask the Arabs to reassure everyone that the only game in town is the two-state solution and that the [2002 Saudi Arabia-proposed] Arab Initiative is still alive and that the Arabs remain committed to it," he said.
"No Arab leader will accept any bypass of the Palestinian issue or changes [made to] the Arab Initiative," he added.
At a February press conference held with U.S. President Donald Trump, Netanyahu mentioned a possible “regional” solution to the perennial Palestine-Israel dispute.
The Israeli premier has previously rejected the existing terms of the Arab Peace Initiative, which was tabled in 2002 and offers broad recognition of Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state established on 1967 borders.
Netanyahu has also repeatedly said that Israel's Arab neighbors had changed their attitude towards Israel in recent years and were now more willing to work with the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
Rajoub, for his part, said he believed that the prospects for a solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict had changed with the advent of the Trump administration in the U.S.
He said Trump's "America First" campaign slogan appeared to suggest that the new U.S. administration would place American interests over those of Israel in future Middle East peace talks -- though he admitted that White House policy on the issue was still in the "exploratory phase".
According to Rajoub, Trump has said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could serve as a viable partner in future peace talks with Israel and has received an invitation to visit Trump’s White House.