"Netanyahu's approach is to have both land and peace on his side. That is impossible"

“Unless the problem of the occupation of Palestine is resolved soon, one can never tell when there will be the next round of war,” the ambassador of the State of Palestine to India, Adnan M.J. Abualhayjaa, told THE WEEK in an exclusive interview on Saturday.

It has been a little over 24 hours since the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians. On Friday, Israel's deputy chief of mission in India Rony Yedidia Clein had stated that the reality on the ground would determine how the ceasefire holds up. “Both parties are today maintaining the ceasefire. But I hope that Israelis do not make more tension at the Al Aqsa mosque and the Sheikh Jarrah (a neighbourhood in Jerusalem where a legal dispute between tenants and landlord added fuel to the fire),” Abualhayjaa said.

He appreciated the efforts of the international community, specially “Egypt, Jordan, European Union, the US and Qatar” in facilitating the ceasefire after 11 days of rocket fire and death, but he stressed that “the international community should do more, to work hard at solving the original problem, which is the occupation of Palestine”, warning that the unresolved issue could trigger war anytime. He said that there have been hundreds of resolutions on Palestine in the United Nations General Assembly and nearly 80 in the Security Council.

“If the international community wants peace in the region, it should work at ensuring that the Palestine State should be as it was of 1967. We need our sovereignty over West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Right now, we are completely under occupation. Israel controls the Gaza Strip with its drones, it doesn't allow farmers to cultivate in the border areas,” he said. He pointed out that the West Bank was defined into three zones -- A zone comprising cities, B zone comprising smaller towns, and the C zone, which was the land in between. “The C zone is completely under Israeli control, they do not even allow free movement of our people between our own towns,” he said. “We are ready for negotiations, but [Benjamin] Netanyahu's approach is to have both land and peace on his side. That is impossible. Let us go by the Oslo Accord philosophy of Land for Peace.''

A lot of Palestinians go to Israeli towns on day passes for work. “Our economy has been impoverished by Israel, and their need is for labour, so this arrangement is working. But it has no relation with our demand and need for independence. If and once we get sovereignty, we can co-exist,” he said.

Responding to Israeli claims that the Hamas was blocking supply of Covid-19 relief material to Palestinians, Abualhayjaa said that “if the Israelis were so concerned about our welfare, they would not have destroyed our only Covid-19 testing facility in Gaza. We have nothing else now.'' Vaccination has been very slow in the Palestinian lands; the authorities bought a small consignment of 25,000 doses from Serum Institute of India on March 29.