US maintains opposition to unilateral recognition of Palestinian state

<p><em>(Anadolu photo)</em></p>

(Anadolu photo)

WASHINGTON – The White House reiterated its opposition Wednesday to any unilateral recognition of the state of Palestine after three European nations moved to open ties.

In response to action from Ireland, Norway, and Spain, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan maintained that any Palestinian state must be formed from direct negotiations with Israel.

"What I can tell you is we believe the only way that you are going to achieve a two-state solution that delivers for both Israelis and Palestinians is through direct negotiations between the parties," he told reporters at the White House.

The three European countries said Wednesday they will officially recognize a Palestinian state on May 28 in what marks a major blow to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long opposed a Palestinian state, rejecting it as recently as Wednesday when he said Ireland, Norway, and Spain's recognition "is a reward for terrorism and will not bring peace."

He alleged that a Palestinian state would be a “terrorist state,” affirming that his government "will not consent to this” and “will not stop it from defeating Hamas.”

Bezalel Smotrich, his finance minister, separately threatened to take “harsh punitive measures” against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in retaliation for the recognition of a Palestine state. That includes cutting the authority's tax revenues.

“At the last cabinet meeting, many ministers, including myself, raised an unequivocal demand for harsh punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority for its unilateral actions against Israel, including its pursuit of unilateral recognition” and its support of legal cases against Israel in The Hague, said Smotrich.

The tax revenues – known in Palestine and Israel as “maqasa” – are collected by the Israeli government on behalf of the PA on Palestinian imports and exports, and Israel in return earns a 3 percent commission.

The revenues are estimated at around $188 million every month and represent the main source of income for the Palestinian Authority.

When pressed on Israel's long-standing refusal to engage in any process that would lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, Sullivan said, "What the United States can do through hard, gumshoe diplomacy, led by the president, the secretary of state, myself, others is trying to put the pieces in place for a vision of an integrated region, of a secure Israel, of a two-state solution."

"Israel is a sovereign nation, it will ultimately have to decide what it does. What we can do as a friend is trying to put the pieces in place to drive down that road," he added. (Anadolu)