PA official rejects Israel’s artificial island proposal for Palestinians

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al Maliki has dismissed a proposal by his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz to create an artificial island off the coast of Egypt as an alternative homeland for Palestinians.

Reports in Brussels claimed that Katz made such a proposal during talks with his EU counterparts aimed at de-escalating the conflict in Gaza.

“The land of Palestine is ours and we will remain there,” Al Maliki told reporters as he headed into a meeting with the EU’s 27 foreign affairs ministers shortly after Katz to discuss the Gaza war.

EU officials said the two men would not meet in person.

Without naming Israel, Al Maliki stated that “those who had the idea” of creating an artificial island may go live on it if they wish.

Before the meetings, top EU diplomats said that the bloc would continue pushing for a two-state solution and criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian statehood.

Comments made by the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell hinted at a deepening rift between Israel and the West.

“Which are the other solutions they have in mind?” Borrell noted, adding, “To make all the Palestinians leave? To kill off them? From now on, I will not talk about the peace process but about the two-state solution process. We are serious about that.”

Katz, however, declined to take questions from reporters about Palestinian statehood.

Holding pictures of Israeli hostages in Gaza, including one-year-old baby Kfir Bibas, he said Israeli soldiers were fighting in the enclave with two goals: “to bring back our hostages and restore security for citizens of Israel.”

About 1,200 Israelis died in a Hamas-led attack on October 7. Israel’s retaliatory military operation in Gaza has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians.

Like the US, the EU has not called for a ceasefire due to opposition from several more Israel-aligned states including Germany. They have argued that Israel must be allowed to carry out its military objective to destroy Hamas.

Yet some criticism of Netanyahu’s strategy has started to emerge within Israel. War cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot appeared to criticise the PM on Friday when he stressed that complete victory over Hamas was unrealistic and called for new elections.

Reluctance to call for a ceasefire positioning has caused bewilderment in much of the Arab world, most of all from Palestinians who have accused the West of double standards. “We have to call collectively for a ceasefire,” Al Maliki continued.

He also called for Brussels to introduce sanctions against Israel, which is unlikely to happen. Talk of blacklisting extremist settlers from European soil has been delayed due to reluctance from some member states. The EU issued sanctions on Hamas last week.

“The collective responsibility of the EU right now lies in this particular moment at a time when they have to show leadership and courage,” he added.

“Otherwise, what we have been saying for a long time about double standards will be clearly shown.”

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