Ceding parts of the occupied West Bank to Palestine is “not an option” Israel is willing to explore as part of a two-state solution between the two countries, said Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Sunday.
Hotovely, who is currently the country’s top diplomat in the absence of a permanent foreign minister, said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s openness to a peace deal “in principle” does not mean Israel is willing to evacuate the West Bank.
According to internationally recognized treaties, the Palestinian territories currently include the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), although Israel continues to exercise military and civil control of 61 percent of the latter. Israel has also been pressing forward with several illegal settlement plans in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi told American news agency the Associated Press that the 1978 peace deal between Egypt and Israel should be expanded to include more Arab countries. According to Sisi, such an expansion would be a positive step towards achieving a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel.
Netanyahu welcomed Sisi’s calls and urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “return immediately to the negotiating table in order to advance the peace process,” Netanyahu’s spokesman said.