Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s statements on Saturday night
that he opposed any Israeli civilian or military presence in a future
Palestinian state was met with scorn by cabinet ministers on
Israel again threatens to withhold tax funds to PA Abbas sees no hope for talks with Israel, firm on UN path
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters, before the
cabinet meeting, that Abbas’s comment about a state without Jews was
“I remind everyone that Abbas denied the Holocaust in his
doctoral thesis, and these things need to raise questions about this man,”
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau said, “I want
to remind everyone that we have Arab citizens in Israel, and that is completely
acceptable. I don’t see any problem that there will be Jewish citizens in a
Palestinian state, if it is established.”
After Abbas’s clarification
that he was talking about a refusal to allow Israeli soldiers in a future
Palestinian state, one government source pointed out that Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu said during his trip last week to Washington that the
Palestinian desire for sovereignty and independence did not have to be in contradiction to Israel’s desire for security.
“Any peace treaty
will have to take into account Israel’s legitimate self-defense requirements,”
the source said. “They can’t be ignored. If Abbas said he will ignore them, then
that is not a good sign, or a way to move forward.”
The official said
there was no substitute for a long-term Israeli military presence along the
Jordan River, and stressed that other countries – including Germany, Japan and
South Korea – have had foreign soldiers on their territory, without viewing that
as an infringement of their sovereignty.
Abbas, who was speaking to Arab
League foreign ministers during an emergency meeting in Doha, Qatar, also
reiterated his determination to go ahead with plans to ask the United Nations in
September to recognize a Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967,
The meeting was held at the request of the PA leadership, which is
seeking Arab support for the UN bid.
Abbas’s remarks against the presence
of Israelis in a future Palestinian state came in response to Netanyahu’s
statements in Washington last week.
The prime minister declared that
Israel would retain control over the Jordan Valley in any peace with the
Palestinians. He also said that some settlements would stay in the West
Abbas criticized Netanyahu for “putting solutions to finalstatus
issues before negotiating [with the Palestinians].”
He said that
Netanyahu has decided that Jerusalem would be the eternal capital of Israel,
that there would be no “right of return” to Israel proper, that the Palestinian
state be demilitarized, that the IDF would stay in the Jordan Valley, and that
settlement blocs would remain with Israel.
“Now he has added a new
demand,” Abbas said. “He is demanding recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
We have rejected, and will reject, this demand. We know what his intention is.
He wants to undermine the Palestinian-Arab presence inside Israel and prevent
the return of refugees.”
Abbas said a resumption of the peace talks was
conditioned on the cessation of settlement construction and setting a clear
timetable for the negotiations.
“The peace talks can’t go on forever,” he
He told the Arab ministers in Doha that Netanyahu’s conditions
meant there were no “common and clear grounds” for resuming the
“Our strategic choice is to go to the UN and the General
Assembly and Security Council to achieve international recognition of a state,
and this is not a secret,” Abbas said. “We have said this more than once, and we
have told the Americans, Europeans and Israelis that we have no choice but to go
to the UN. We are serious about going to the UN, and we are not maneuvering and
we are not making tactical moves.”
In the context of his efforts to
secure Arab backing for the UN bid, Abbas arrived in Cairo on Sunday for talks
Mohammed Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed
Forces and de facto head of state.
Abbas’s talks in Cairo will also focus
on the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation accord between Fatah and
In a related development, Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the Fatah
Central Committee, met in Gaza City on Sunday with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh and discussed with him the implementation of the reconciliation
agreement – especially with regards to the establishment of a unity government
consisting of independent “technocrats.”
Sha’ath said after the meeting
that the new government would be established as early as next week.
said that Netanyahu’s speech before Congress last week was proof that Israel did
not want peace.
“How can peace be achieved when Israel wants to devour
half of the West Bank and all of Jerusalem, does not want the right of return,
is continuing to build in the settlements and is asking us to recognize it as a
Jewish state, which means expelling 1.5 million Palestinians?” Sha’ath asked.