PA set on UN bid unless Israel meets their terms

Ashton in region, hopes to bring PA back to negotiating table; Lieberman: Abbas trying to destroy Jewish state.

Abbas 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Abbas 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday set two conditions for abandoning his plan to ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state in September: acceptance of the 1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution and a cessation of settlement construction.
“Without this we will continue going to the UN,” Abbas said.
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He spoke on the eve of a trip to the region by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, a last-minute bid to bring Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
“Following the recent tragic events in Israel and Gaza, it is more important than ever that the parties return to the negotiating table,” Ashton said. “It is only through negotiations – and not violence – that the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be addressed.
“The EU continues to make every effort to make a renewal of negotiations possible. That is why I am traveling to the region this weekend,” she said.
On Sunday, Ashton will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. She also plans to met with Abbas before heading to Jordan for talks on the peace process with King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
Separately on Sunday, Netanyahu will meet with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store.
Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled for almost a year. The Palestinians have insisted they will return to the negotiating table only if Israel meets their terms.
On Saturday night, an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas had made a mistake turning to the UN and setting conditions on the renewal of talks.
A bid to for Palestinian membership at the UN “won’t bring peace or statehood,” the official said.
“It’s a pity, that Abu Mazen [Abbas] has not put the same effort into direct negotiations as he has into his UN strategy,” the official said. Had he done so, Abbas would have been more likely to achieve results, the official added.
Addressing Muslim religious leaders in Ramallah on Saturday, Abbas said the statehood bid was not aimed at “isolating” Israel or clashing with the US.
“We want to fulfill our dream of achieving official recognition of our Palestinian state with full sovereignty over the territories occupied in 1967 and a full membership in the UN,” he said.
Abbas said that the statehood bid would lay the foundations for peace, justice and coexistence, “instead of repression and aggression.”
The Palestinians, he added, “want to put an end to the conflict and the occupation, which is the longest in modern history.”
He accused Israel of turning the West Bank into isolated cantons, “destroying any dream of a contiguous and independent Palestinian state.”
Abbas said that failed peace talks and the ongoing construction in east Jerusalem were the main reason behind the PA’s decision to go to the UN next month.
He reiterated his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
“The Quartet can’t impose on us to recognize the nature of the State of Israel,” Abbas said.
“This is none of our business.
Why are we alone being asked to say that Israel is a Jewish or Hebrew state? We don’t accept these things.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Abbas’s refusal to recognize the Jewish nature of the State of Israel showed that his ultimate goal was to replace the Israeli state with a Palestinian one.
This, Lieberman said, was the true nature of Abbas’s unilateral push for statehood.
“The Palestinians’ real intention is not to create a state that would live in peace side by side with Israel, but rather the creation of a state that is free of Jews in Judea and Samaria, and a hostile takeover from within of the State of Israel,” the foreign minister said. “This is also the reason that Abbas and his colleagues are not interested in negotiating with Israel, and have preferred unilateral steps.”
Lieberman called on the international community to make it clear to Abbas that the only path to Palestinian statehood was to stop trying to destroy the only Jewish state in the world.
Separately, the US Consulate in Jerusalem denied that Consul- General Daniel Rubenstein had threatened “punitive measures” if the Palestinians went ahead with plans to upgrade their status at the UN.
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said last Friday that the consul made the threat during a meeting with him.
The consulate, in a statement, said Erekat’s account of the meeting in Jericho was “not an accurate portrayal of the US position.” Washington’s position was to encourage a return to negotiations with Israel, the statement continued.
“Initiatives through the UN will not bring about the twostate solution and enduring peace, which both the parties and the US seek,” a spokeswoman for the consulate was quoted as saying by the Maan news agency.
She said that the US administration continued to oppose initiatives by the Palestinians in the UN because “there is no substitute for serious and substantive negotiations between the parties, and that remains our focus.”
Erekat said after the meeting with Rubenstein that the consul threatened that the US would cut off aid to the Palestinians if they insisted on going to the UN.
On Saturday, Erekat repeated his claim, adding that the Americans had threatened to veto the PA statehood bid in the Security Council.
Erekat stressed that the Palestinians were nevertheless keen on avoiding confrontation with the US administration over the statehood plan.
He said that the Palestinians were going to the UN after having conducted “thorough” consultations with experts and politicians, as well as Arab countries.
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