Abbas Fayyad Arafat.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian leadership sent mixed messages to a Democratic Congressional delegation visiting Ramallah, with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad saying that no decision on the UN bid in September has been finalized, while PA President Mahmoud Abbas gave the impression that going to the UN was a done deal.
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"Fayyad said that the decision to go to the UN had not been made, in other words had not been finalized, which we were pleased to hear," US Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MA), the head of the delegation, told The Jerusalem Post shortly after the talks.
"Then we met with Abbas for about an hour and a half, and the discussions were different from Fayyad in the sense that he talked throughout as if the decision had been made, and that they were going to the UN," Hoyer said.
Hoyer, who co-authored a Congressional resolution last month with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) against a Palestinian unilateral move at the UN, said that he and some other members of the delegation told Abbas they felt a move at the UN would be a "destabilizing effort," and that both Israel and the Palestinians agreed in the past that the only way to solve difference was through bilateral negotiations.
Hoyer said that the delegation "indicated" that a PA decision to go to
the UN "would be unwise and that the Congress would be very concerned
about that happening, and might take action."
When asked what kind of action, Hoyer said "funding."
Hoyer held out the possibility that while budgetary funding to the PA
might be stopped, it might not be stopped for security training. A
judgment would have to be made, he said, whether cutting off funding for
security might not be "cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.
Undermining security in the West Bank may have an adverse consequence in
Abbas, according to Hoyer, said that there are no negotiations now
because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has placed pre-conditions,
specifically a demand that there be an IDF presence in the Jordan
Abbas told the delegation that the discussions he has had with Netanyahu
in the past "have led nowhere, because unless we agree to be occupied
by IDF troops, he doesn't want to talk about anything in the next step."
Abbas, according to Hoyer, said he met with Netanyahu last year, but
that those talks "went nowhere because Netanyahu only wanted to talk
about security, and that the implementing of that security was
deployment of IDF troops in the Jordan Valley."
Hoyer, the House of Representative's Democratic Whip, said that Wednesday night's decision to approve 1,600 units in Ramat Shlomo
came up only "tangentially" in the talks. "They made a reference to it, and very frankly did not spend much time on it."
Regarding his own view of the decision, Hoyer said "it is not reasonable
to believe that a city over 44 years does not grow and need housing for
its people. So I am not surprised that additional housing units are
provided for." Hoyer said that while this complicated "to some degree
the continuing attempts to resolve the differences, over 44 years
Hoyer is leading a delegation
26 Democrats in the country for a week on a trip sponsored by the
American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization
affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Over the
next two weeks an additional 55 Republicans will be coming in two delegations.