WASHINGTON (Aug. 8)
The State Department reiterated Monday the U.S. position that the future of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip can only be decided by Israel and its Arab neighbors.
But department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley had no comment on a statement made Sunday by King Hussein of Jordan that while his nation would participate in any peace negotiations with Israel, it would not do so as part of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.
Hussein, who has taken a series of steps to sever Jordan’s ties with the West Bank, said at a news conference in Amman that he will never again speak on behalf of the Palestinians, because they and the other Arab countries had decided that the Palestine Liberation Organization is “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
Only last week, the State Department repeated its position that the best way for the Palestinians to participate in negotiations with Israel is as part of a joint delegation with Jordan.
Oakley also had no direct comment on a Palestinian document revealed by Israel over the weekend outlining proposals for an independent state. The document was seized from the Arab Studies Institute in Jerusalem when its director, Faisal al-Husseini, was arrested last month.
The disclosure came as the PLO was discussing setting up a government in exile to take over the administrative and legal functions abandoned by Hussein.
“Our position on the future of the occupied territories remains the same,” Oakley said Monday. “We do not support either the creation of an independent Palestinian state or the unilateral annexation of the occupied territories by Israel. Final status of these territories must be decided through negotiations.”
The new situation in the Arab-Israel conflict was evolving as Richard Murphy, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, was in the Middle East, for what he publicly maintained was another effort to move the peace process ahead.