(WASHINGTON) — Maen Rashid Areikat, chief representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation in D.C., said Friday that if Israel goes ahead with plans to establish settlements in a sensitive area outside Jerusalem known as the “E1 settlements,” the PLO will see it as a “red line.”
“E1 is a red line, and if Israel embarks on that it will be sending — not a clear signal, but a final signal to us that there will be no Palestinian state,” Chief Rep. Areikat told reporters at a breakfast held by the Christian Science Monitor Friday. “So that’s why we are looking seriously at their plans and at their efforts to implement the E1 plan.”
“A red line is some line that if the Israelis cross it again it means that there is no hope that there will be a future Palestinian state and therefore it will have some grave consequences.”
Areikat clarified he was not calling for an armed struggle.
“Under no circumstances would the PLO or the current Palestinian leadership advocate violent or armed struggle. Period. This is not an option,” Areikat said. “Because it doesn’t serve the interests of the Palestinian people.”
“Whatever is available to us legally, diplomatically, politically, we are going to resort to whatever venues available to us in order to make sure that Israel does not kill our dream, kill our hope and keep us under their military occupation,” Areikat said. “Peaceful, legal, political, diplomatic – what have you.”
Talking about the possibility that President Obama would nominate Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Areikat said he did not want to speculate but that he knows Kerry well.
“Of course we know Sen. Kerry very well, and he has always maintained open channels and contacts with the Palestinians and other parties and we have had many opportunities in the past to exchange views with him,” Areikat said. “We also had good relations with Susan Rice.”
With the coming change up in the Obama cabinet, Areikat said he hoped to see a change in U.S. relations with both countries, wherein the U.S. would hold Israel and Palestine equally accountable for actions each country takes that could jeopardize peace talks.
“Now whether we anticipate a change, I think we are hopeful that this administration will once again get engaged, and the sooner, the better in trying to lay that foundation needed for the two parties to once again resume direct talks with the end, the objective of ending, resolving the conflict and not only managing the conflict like we have seen in the past few years.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Sheena McKenzie, CNN