(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was
offering "nothing we can build on" for peace and that without progress
he will seek UN recognition of Palestinian statehood in September.
He told the Palestine Liberation Organization on Wednesday that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to the United States Congress on
Tuesday "traveled far from peace," dictating solutions before
negotiations even begin.
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Abbas told the Palestine Liberation Organization Netanyahu's speech to
the United States Congress on Tuesday "traveled far from peace",
dictating solutions before negotiations even begin.
He said he would consult Arab states at the weekend about US President
Barack Obama's latest ideas for restarting the peace process and
Netanyahu's negative response to them.
"We said in the past and we still say that our choice is negotiation,
negotiation and nothing but negotiation. But if nothing happens by
September we will go (to the UN to ask for recognition by its 192 member
states)," Abbas said.
"Our aim is not to isolate [Israel] or to de-legitimise it. It is not an act of terror and not a unilateral act."
Abbas's plan to seek UN recognition was criticized by both Netanyahu and Obama in speeches in Washington last week.
In a major policy speech, however, Obama said a future Palestinian state
should be based on the borders as they existed on the eve of the 1967
Six Day War, with land swaps mutually agreed with Israel.
Netanyahu swiftly rejected the proposal saying it would leave Israel
with "indefensible" borders. But Abbas described the idea as "a
foundation with which we can deal positively".
Earlier Wednesday, senior Fatah member Nabil Shaath rejected Netanyahu’s
address to Congress and said that Israel's policies won’t lead to
peace. Shaath accused Netanyahu of having destroyed any chances for
peace, effectively waging war on the diplomatic process to bring about a
Speaking to Israel Radio, the Palestinian negotiator said that the
Palestinian Authority has decided that the way forward is to "do what
Israel did in 1948 and go to the United Nations" in order to "ask for
the state promised to us."
Shaath criticized Netanyahu's repeated claim that an Israel on 1967
borders is "indefensible," saying insistence on keeping IDF forces on
the border and on the Jordan river and not allowing an Arab authority in
Jerusalem continue to damage and progress in peace negotiations.
According to Shaath, negotiations with the Netanyahu government have "no
credibility," as the prime minister negotiates while violating Oslo
agreements. Shaath was referring to the claim that Israel, even while
calling for a halt to settlement construction, has continued to build
settlements beyond the Green Line.
The PA negotiator also rejected Netanyahu’s call to cancel the
reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas. He said that Hamas
came to Fatah denouncing violence and seeking peace with Israel, not