Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Arab foreign ministers decided on Saturday to support the Palestinian Authority’s plan to seek a UN Security Council resolution calling for a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The decision followed a meeting of the ministers in Cairo to discuss the latest developments in the region and PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to seek a Security Council resolution that sets a timeline for Israel’s pullout and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Abbas said that if he does not receive answers from Israel regarding his demand to resume the peace talks on the basis of the pre-1967 lines by the end of the day on Saturday, he would proceed with his statehood bid at the Security Council and join international organizations and treaties, including the International Criminal Court.
The Arab ministers said that the Arab countries would present a draft resolution to the Security Council that includes the PA demands for a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
However, the ministers did not say when the draft resolution would be presented to the council.
However, they said that they would continue to hold consultations with all members of the Security Council, as well as various international parties, to win their backing for the proposed resolution.
The Arab League ministers also reiterated their opposition to Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state.
Abbas attended Saturday’s meeting in Cairo. He threatened to proceed with his statehood bid at the Security Council unless the peace talks with Israel are revived.
“Israel does not know where its borders are and is refusing to define them,” Abbas said. “We will present an Arab plan to the Security Council calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state. All indications are that US mediation efforts to revive the peace talks have failed.”
He said that the PA had asked US Secretary of State John Kerry to work together to draft the resolution that would be presented to the Security Council. The PA also asked Kerry to put pressure on Israel to stop settlement construction and release more Palestinian prisoners, Abbas added.
Abbas warned that if the Palestinian move at the Security Council is thwarted, “we would move toward defining our relations with Israel by halting security coordination and asking the occupation to assume its responsibilities [toward the Palestinian population].”
The US is expected to use its veto power in the Security Council to block the Palestinian resolution. It has spoken in favor of the resumption of direct negotiations as the sole path to solving the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
The Prime Minister’s Office would not comment on Abbas’ request to resume talks based on the pre-1967 lines. But in the past, Netanyahu has rejected that language.
An Israeli official said, “Abbas always wants to talk about the borders of the future Palestinian state, but refuses to answer the fundamental questions. Will the Palestinian state recognize the Jewish state? Will he agree to demilitarization? Will he end incitement to hatred against Israel?” The Israeli official added, “By avoiding these essential questions, he makes a serious discussions of the borders impossible. These issues are intertwined. He cannot just chose the ones that he is comfortable discussing.”
The official warned any Palestinian decision to unilaterally seek statehood recognition or to turn to the International Criminal Court “could be highly destabilizing.”
With respect to Abbas’s threats to end the PA’s security cooperation with Israel, the official said that both sides benefit from the relationship.
The official noted that, just two months ago, Israeli security forces had uncovered a Hamas plot against Abbas.
In Cairo on Saturday, Abbas told the emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers, “We are no longer able to live with the status quo. We have no choice but to internationalize the Palestinian cause.”
He also reiterated the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
“We recognize the State of Israel, but we won’t recognize a Jewish state at all,” Abbas stressed. “If Israel wants to change its name, it should go to the UN. This is its business.”
Abbas accused Israel of working toward “consolidating apartheid through a number of laws.”
“The situation in the West Bank is dangerous and can’t continue as it is,” Abbas said in his speech. “The most dangerous thing facing the Palestinian cause at this time is the continuation of the status quo.”
He said that Israel knows very well that there would be no Palestinian state without the Gaza Strip. Israel, he charged, is continuing with its policy of creating facts on the ground by building settlements on Palestinian territories.
Abbas also met in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi and briefed him on his plan to go to the Security Council. The two also discussed the situation in the Gaza Strip and the continued closure of the Rafah border crossing, a PA official said.
The official quoted Abbas as saying during the meeting that the donor countries should fulfill their promises to fund the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.