Palestinians appeal to Europe to stop Trump's peace plan 'driving region off the cliff'

Letter to White House suggests changes to Jared's Kushner initiative

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (L) meets with Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad Al Maliki at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on May 16, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki has made a last-minute plea to the White House to change course over the Middle East peace plan due to be published next month.

Speaking at Chatham House in London, Mr Al Maliki revealed that in addition to diplomatic backing from the Arab League and OIC he was rallying European support for changes to the so-called “deal of the century” drawn up by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump.

The foreign minister revealed that a secret retreat by European and Arab envoys in February in Dublin had seen the drawing up of a letter to Mr Trump and the team around Mr Kushner setting out changes to the approach. Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, undertook to send the letter to the White House.

"The current situation is approaching a critical point that may become a disaster if no intervention is made to rescue the two-state solution,” Mr Al Maliki told an audience of officials and opinion formers in the British capital.

“This administration is preparing to give its stamp of approval to Israel’s colonial policies,” he said. “The administration has shown nothing but disregard for Palestinian rights and Palestinian lives.

“Defeating colonialism cannot be our responsibility alone.”

Paying tribute to the resolve of Palestinians to maintain their statehood, Mr Al Maliki warned that it was “delusional” not see the harm the deal would bring to the region. “This cannot be the future of Palestine,” he said. “Our people have not struggled for so long and endured so much simply to change the size of their chains. They want peace and coexistence not subjugation.”

The likelihood of an American change of heart while President Trump remained so close to Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was slight however, said Mr Al Maliki, who went on to directly criticise the US leader.

"The world left the steering wheel in the hands of a reckless driver,” he said. “We disregard the view that we should wait until the reckless driver goes over the cliff or runs over the Palestinian people before doing something about it,” he said. "The deal of the century will be a consecration of the Palestinians’ century-old ordeal – no independence, sovereignty, freedom and no justice.”

Over the course of two days, Mr Al Maliki has been accompanied by Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK who was thrown out of the US when the Trump administration shut off ties with Palestinians last year. He held meetings with parliamentarians including opposition leader Jeremy Corbin and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The Dublin meeting brought together Mr Al Maliki and Mr Coveney as well as Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry and representatives from France, Egypt, Jordan, Sweden, Bulgaria, Cyprus, plus the secretary general of the League of Arab States.

“Ireland’s experience in the past has been that confidentiality can allow for a better discussion between different participants,” a statement explaining the need for secrecy surrounding the meeting said. “The intention is not to launch any new process but to consider ways to support and shape engagement on this issue in other fora.”

US officials have expressed dismay at what they regard as the Palestinians' pre-emptive rejection of the plan, with Jason Greenblatt, an aide to Mr Kushner, publicly questioning the Palestinian stance.

“It’s difficult to understand why the Palestinian Authority would refuse a plan they haven’t seen. Palestinians deserve dignity, opportunity, and a better way of life,” Mr Greenblatt said.  “When the time comes, our hope is that the Palestinian Authority will act professionally, give the plan a serious look, judge it on its merits, and engage constructively on it.”