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PA to consult with Arab powers over US peace role
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
09/12/2010
Meeting to be held with Egypt, Arab League after US abandons settlement freeze talks; Sha'ath: PA considering going to UNSC for recognition.
 
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to hold “urgent” consultations in Cairo on Thursday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in wake of Washington’s decision to abandon efforts to persuade Israel to extend a moratorium on settlement construction, a PA official said on Wednesday.

Abbas has also requested an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital next week to discuss the repercussions of the US decision.

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The PA official said the Palestinians expected the Arab ministers to convene in Cairo as early as next week.

The Egyptian president will ask Abbas to delay his decision to seek international UN recognition of a Palestinian state so as to give the US administration another chance to persuade Israel to halt settlement construction, the official said.

PA negotiator Nabil Sha’ath said that in light of the American announcement the PA leadership would discuss the possibility of asking the UN Security Council to recognize an independent Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders.

He said that the PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Committee would convene in Ramallah to discuss the PA response to the US announcement as soon as Abbas returns from his current tour abroad.

Sha’ath added that the Palestinians hold Israel fully responsible for the current deadlock in the peace talks He said that Israel’s refusal to cease settlement construction would be added to US President Barack Obama’s “record of failure” in making the peace process succeed.

Barakat Farra, PA ambassador to Cairo, said that Abbas would consult with Mubarak about the Palestinians’ next step in response to the US announcement.



Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, said that the PA won’t announce its response to the US announcement before consulting with members of the Arab League.

He said that Abbas has informed the Americans that the Palestinians won’t take any step, including dispatching an envoy for talks with US officials in Washington, without consulting with the Arab countries.

Abbas, who learned about the US position during a visit to Greece, said that the peace process was facing a “difficult crisis.”

He told reporters in Athens that the EU could now play a larger role, together with the US, to achieve peace in the Middle East.

“There’s a crisis and it’s a difficult one,” Abbas said.

“We are moving in two parallel directions that don’t impact each other: the peace process, which we are trying to save from the crisis its facing, and national reconciliation [with Hamas].”

Abbas said that despite the crisis in the peace talks with Israel, the Palestinians remained committed to a political solution on the basis of the road map and the Arab peace initiative, which he described as a “precious gift” to peace in the Middle East.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official closely associated with Abbas, said that the US decision harmed Washington’s credibility as an honest broker.

“If they can’t convince Israel or force it to stop settlement construction for a specified period of time, how will they make Israel accept a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders?” Abed Rabbo asked in an interview with the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station.

“Instead of announcing that Israel is responsible for the failure of the negotiations, the US administration is giving the Israelis an opportunity to waste more time. The US policy has failed because of the blow it has received from Israel.”
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