On September 30, 2021, the London-based Qatari Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily reported on a meeting that took place that day between Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh and Israeli Arab journalists, including a correspondent for Al-Quds Al-Arabi. According to the report, Shtayyeh asked that the meeting, which took place in his office, not be recorded. In the meeting, he said that Israel is not interested in a solution to the Palestinian issue – neither the two-state solution nor the one-state solution – and persists in its efforts to fragment the Palestinian people and ignore its cause. Given this reality, he said, there will be no choice but to go back to the starting point of the Palestinian issue in 1948, and in that situation the Palestinian people "from the river to the sea" will have a single united leadership. He also stated that Israel is bound to "die demographically since the Jewish human reservoir in the world has dwindled." He added that, in a meeting one month ago in Ramallah between PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Benny Gantz, the former said that if the two-state solution was not implemented, the solution would be to return to the 1947 partition resolution. Ganz, said Shtayyeh, was astonished by the Palestinian president's words.
According to the report, Shtayyeh also expressed disappointment in the current U.S. administration which, he said, has promised to reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem and the PLO offices in Washington, and to renew funding to organizations aiding the Palestinians, but in practice has done almost nothing to fulfill these promises.
It should be noted that, in his speech at the September 24, 2021 UN General Assembly, 'Abbas gave Israel an ultimatum, saying it has one year to withdraw to the 1967 borders and reach a permanent solution with the Palestinians, otherwise the Palestinians will revoke their recognition of Israel. He stressed that, in such a situation, various options will be available, including "returning to a solution based on the partition plan of resolution 181 (II), adopted in 1947, which gives the State of Palestine 44% of the land," and appealing to the International Court of Justice "on the issue of the legality of the occupation of the land of the Palestinian state."
The following are translated excerpts from the report in Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh (Source: Wafa.ps)
"PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said on September 30, 2021 in a talk with Palestinian journalists from the 1948 territories [i.e., Israeli Arab journalists] that none of the past Israeli governments since 1967 were interested in settling the conflict with the Palestinian people, and none of them had a solution, and that the same goes for the current [Israeli] government. [Shtayyeh] stressed that the conflict would [eventually] go back to its starting point. According to him, the only Israeli plan was and still is [granting the Palestinians] autonomy. That is what the [Israeli] occupation wants even today, and it is acting to fragment the Palestinian people, drown it in details and distract it from its main issue, which is the occupation.
"During the talk [with the journalists], which he requested not be taped, Shtayyeh stressed that Israel persists in its efforts to tighten its control over the Palestinian people using several imperialistic methods, such as controlling the water and electricity [supply], seizing land and enticing the Palestinians to work for [Israel] instead of working their own lands.
"Shtayyeh said that there is no solution to the Palestinian issue on the horizon, that Israel does not want any solution, neither the two-state solution nor the one-state solution, and that on the ground it keeps acting, on a daily basis, to sabotage any chance of establishing a Palestinian state… He added: 'We, for our part, do everything we can to break out of the existing situation. [But] if the two-state solution falls apart, we will go back to the starting point of 1948, and then the [entire] Palestinian people, from the river to the sea, will have a single leadership. Let me repeat: in that situation there will be a joint Palestinian leadership, so that the unity of the [Palestinian] people will be mirrored by geographical unity and a unity of the [Palestinian] cause…'
"In his long talk with the Palestinian journalists from inside the Green Line, including a reporter for Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Shtayyeh [also] said that Israel is bound to die demographically, since the Jewish human reservoir in the world has dwindled… He added: 'The conflict with Palestine will end with a series of consecutive blows, not with one deadly blow. Demography is an important factor in the conflict, and that is why Israel is trying to rid itself of Gaza and push it into Egypt's hands. [Eventually] Israel will be neither democratic not Jewish. It is in decline in every way. We and Israel are headed towards the South African model, with a Jewish minority ruling an Arab majority in historical Palestine. This situation will take the conflict back to its starting point and reshape the Palestinian reality.'
"Shtayyeh admitted that the PA does not have a specific strategy regarding Gaza, nor does Egypt… Referring to the meeting one month ago between PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas Abu Mazen and the foreign minister of the [Israeli] occupation army, Benny Gantz, Shatayyeh said that Abu Mazen told Gantz: 'If you want a state in the 1967 borders, you must get ready to return to the  partition resolution,' and Gantz was astonished [to hear] this… Gantz told 'Abbas: 'I want to be like Rabin. I believe in the two-state solution but the barrier [makeup] of the present [Israeli] government does not allow [promoting this solution].'
"About the U.S. administration, Shtayyeh said: 'All we have heard so far from the U.S. administration is pretty words, which have not been realized [in practice. In the beginning of Biden's presidency] there were American positions and promises regarding several issues, including the reopening of the American consulate in East Jerusalem, the reopening of the PLO offices in Washington and the renewal of financial aid for organizations working under the UN auspices that are helping the Palestinian people. But so far we have not seen anything [happen] in practice, except for a partial refunding of UNRWA, at a rate that does not exceed 19% of its budget. What the American administration has done so far lacks initiative and [helpful] ideas, and is confined to formal issues and cosmetic measures.'
"Shtayyeh added that the [U.S.] consulate [in East Jerusalem] will be reopened, [because the U.S.] Congress has already passed the decision and allocated funds for it. [He noted that] we ascribe much importance to this measure, for [it means] an explicit U.S. recognition that Jerusalem is an occupied city. Moreover, [this] U.S. consulate will be the corner stone for the U.S. embassy in Palestine. 'At the same time,' he added, 'I do not believe that any definite progress will be made in terms of the U.S. position or that there will be a breakthrough.'
"Shatayyeh noted, however, that in his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the latter used terms no U.S. official had ever used before, such as 'Haram Al-Sharif' instead of 'Temple Mount.'"