The Palestinians will not sign any peace agreements with Israel as long as the latter maintains a military presence on Palestinian land, Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Wednesday.
Abu Rudeineh made the assertion following statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel planned to maintain military control over the West Bank -- even in the event that a peace treaty is signed.
“Netanyahu's comments are unacceptable,” Abu Rudeineh said in a statement. “Such assertions will prevent the conclusion any kind of legitimate peace settlement.”
“Peace and security can only be achieved through Israel's withdrawal from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem,” he said, accusing Netanyahu of “aggravating the conflict”.
He added: “The [Ramallah-based] Palestinian government will never allow a single Israeli soldier to remain in an independent Palestinian state.”
Netanyahu's statements, Abu Rudeineh went on, “show that Israel is not being honest when engaging in the U.S.-brokered process”.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu reiterated his insistence on maintaining Israeli military control over the West Bank within the context of any future peace settlement.
Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967. Currently, some 200,000 Jewish settlers live in East Jerusalem, with another 400,000 in the West Bank.
According to international law, all Jewish settlements built on occupied territories are considered illegal.