Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) gestures as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas looks on.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Direct negotiations with Israel were a failure, and as a result the Palestinians now want to see negotiations go through the UN, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in an interview published on Monday.
“We hope negotiations will be resumed, but within a new framework,” Hamdallah told The Washington Post. And the new framework, he said, should set the end of 2017 as the deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
These terms are expected to be in a resolution to be brought to the United Nations Security Council before September by France and New Zealand.
Hamdallah said that the French initiative was being coordinated with the US. He said if such a resolution was passed – meaning one that defines the final parameters of a deal and sets a timeline – “I’m sure we can go back to negotiations.”
He said that the Palestinians “have certain assurances from the United States that after the Iranian deal, they will resume negotiations between us and the Israelis.”
“We need outside intervention from the UN, from the superpowers, from the United States. Once there is a resolution, whether the UN asking for Israeli withdrawal and for the establishment of the state, this has to be guaranteed by the superpowers,” he said.
“Otherwise, it will be just a paper. We hope that the United States’ intervention can help us.”
In an interview to be aired Tuesday evening on Channel 2, US President Barack Obama will say – according to Ilana Dayan, who conducted the interview – that a diplomatic process needs to move forward, and that in the absence of such a process it will be difficult for the US and the international community to defend Israel in international forums.
This interview comes fast on the heels of an extensive interview on Israel Obama gave last month to The Atlantic, and a speech delivered a few days later to Congregation Adas Israel in Washington, both seen as a concerted effort to ease Jewish apprehension over the nuclear deal with Iran that may be signed by the June 30 deadline.
In an excerpt of the interview that aired Monday, Obama said he could demonstrate that “the best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is a verifiable rough agreement.”
Obama, who in the past has hinted at the distant possibility of military action by saying that “no options are off the table,” said in this interview that “a military solution will not fix it, even if the United States participates. It would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program, but it will not eliminate it.”
Hamdallah, in his interview, made clear that the Palestinian Authority and Israel remain far apart regarding Israel’s security requirements by stressing that no Israeli soldiers would be allowed into a future Palestinian state.
Hamdallah said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas suggested that the Palestinians would agree to a demilitarized state, and that Israel could bring “any third party to the borders between them and us. We told them, choose any country except Israeli soldiers. And they said they don’t trust anyone. What can we do?” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a briefing with journalists last week, said that any agreement would necessitate a long-term Israeli security presence not only along the Jordan River but throughout the West Bank.
Netanyahu reiterated this again on Sunday following a meeting with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The critical question, Netanyahu said, is not where the border will run, but, rather, what will be on the other side of the border, and who will ensure that a new Palestinian state is not overrun by Islamic radicals, either Sunni or Shi’ite.
“Everywhere that we look in the Middle East we see states collapsing, we see peace agreements being torn apart,” he said.
“We see militant Islam, either from the Shi’ite variety or from the Sunni variety, taking up all the areas that are vacated.
“How do we prevent that from happening in territories that will become the Palestinian state?” he asked. “Not where the border will be. What will be beyond the border? Who will prevent the tunnel being dug from Kalkilya and the Palestinian West Bank into the adjacent Israeli town? Who will prevent the rockets being assembled – not smuggled in across the Jordan [but] assembled – from raw materials in Ramallah to be launched against Tel Aviv? Who will do that?”