PLO official Nabil Shaath said Sunday that he does not see any risk of unrest in the West Bank unless settlers instigate it.

Speaking with Army Radio, Shaath said, "We are not going to allow any unrest in the West Bank, neither politically nor security wise." Politically, he said, "I think our people are quite satisfied not to go back to violence and are going in this fight to continue their peaceful struggle for independence and for real peace and a two-state solution."

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Addressing the risk of violence, Shaath added, "I don't see any risk of having unrest in the West Bank unless the Israeli settlers want to create that."

Asked why the Palestinian leadership refuses to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, Shaath responded that the Jewish people, on their own, decided "that they have really built their state that is not only for the Jewish people because 22 percent of Israelis are not Jewish."

Presented with statements attributed to the Palestinian Authority envoy to the United States last week that a Palestinian state would be without Jews, Shaath said that Maen Areikat "never said 'Jewish free,'" but rather "that at the beginning of our peace, we want to separate."

Asked whether settlers would be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state, he added, "If [settlers] decide to accept Palestinian citizenship and buy the territory that they have and live as individual citizens, then why not?"

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Addressing the possibility to avert a vote in either the United Nations Security Council or General Assembly on recognition of Palestinian statehood and an immediate return to direct negotiations with Israel, the senior Palestinian official put forth one condition.

"Of course there is a chance to start direct negotiations," Shaath said, "you stop your settlement and we'll go tomorrow to direct negotiations."

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