The US on Wednesday officially asked the Palestinian Authority to abandon its
plan to ask the UN later this month to recognize a Palestinian state along the
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The request was relayed to PA President Mahmoud Abbas by
US Middle East envoy David Hale during a meeting in Ramallah, Palestinian
officials said. The meeting was attended by senior White House official Dennis
Ross and US Consul-General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubenstien.
said that the US envoys did not carry any new proposals for reviving the peace
Later in the day, at a naval officers commencement ceremony in
Haifa, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called once again for Abbas to enter
negotiations with him, and to remain at it until an agreement was hammered
“The place is not important,” he said. “What is important is to
start, to continue and to complete [the negotiations].”
that peace was made “through direct negotiations between the sides, and not
through international dictate. Therefore I call from this stage to the president
of the PA to come to direct negotiations without preconditions, and to remain
there until it is finished.”
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat quoted
Abbas as saying during his meeting with the US envoys that the Palestinians
would resume the peace talks with Israel only if Jerusalem halted construction
in the settlements and accepted the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state
Hale told Abbas that Washington wants to see the Palestinians
return to the negotiating table with Israel, Erekat said.
the US envoy as saying that the Quartet members – the US, EU, UN and Russia –
were preparing a new initiative that envisages the establishment of a
Palestinian state “on the basis of the 1967 borders.”
Israeli officials the idea is that Israel would enter the negotiations using the
1967 lines, with mutually-agreed swaps, as the basis of talks, if the
Palestinians agree that the goal of the negotiations would be two states – a
Palestinian state and a Jewish one.
Israeli officials have noted that
Jerusalem, while not endorsing the 1967 lines, would agree to language that
would say that Israel recognized that this was the position of the international
This idea has been bouncing around since mid-July, when it was
brought to the Quartet, but not accepted there. While the US supported, and
continues to support the idea, the Russians were opposed to placing recognition
of the Jewish state in the formula, and the Europeans took a middle position on
the Jewish-state issue between the US and Russia.
One Western diplomat
said that while a number of key European states – such as Germany, France and
Italy – were not opposed, some other European countries – believed to include
Britain and Spain – have objections.
Israeli diplomatic officials –
acknowledging that it would be difficult to convince the Palestinians to accept
the language recognizing Israel as a Jewish state in a possible formula, even if
the EU was not fully behind it – said that the objections from some of the
European countries stemmed from skepticism that the Palestinians would never
accept the idea. Concern about the implications of this type of statement on
other minority groups inside Israel were also cited.
One Israeli official
said Israel was frustrated that while the Europeans have no problem putting into
various resolutions coming out of Brussels language that is jarring to Israeli
ears – such as various resolutions calling for Jerusalem to be the capital of a
future Palestinian state – they don’t have the same qualms about inserting
language difficult for the Palestinians.
One Palestinian official,
meanwhile, told The Jerusalem Post
that he did not rule out the possibility that
the Palestinians would go only to the UN General Assembly, and not to the
Security Council, where the US has threatened to use the veto to foil the
“We have been advised by some or our European and
Arab friends not to go to the Security Council because we don’t have a majority
in favor of the plan, and because of the US threat to use the veto,” the
official said. “We are now studying submitting a request to the General Assembly
to accept the state of Palestine as a full member. This is also an important
step because it would give us access to numerous international
Erekat stressed, however, that Hale did not deliver a “direct
threat” to the PA leadership against going to the UN.
Erekat, the PA is only planning to apply to the UN for membership of a
Palestinian state on the pre- 1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its
“Contrary to what is being said, we are not asking for
independence or recognition of a Palestinian state,” he explained. “It’s wrong
to say that the Palestinian Authority is asking for independence.
independent state was declared more than 20 years ago. We are only asking that
Palestine be admitted as a member of the UN.”
Erekat said that Hale came
to Ramallah in an attempt to convince the PA against going to the UN, using the
argument that such a move would complicate matters and did not serve the
During the meeting Abbas asked the US Administration
to reconsider its position toward the statehood bid, Erekat added.
also dismissed claims that the statehood bid would affect the “right of return”
for Palestinian refugees to their original villages inside Israel.
to the UN won’t cancel the right of return,” he said.
“Recognition of a
Palestinian state will pave the way for the state to enter international
institutions and demand all our legitimate rights, including the right of