The Palestinian Authority on Thursday stepped up its criticism of purported US
pro-Israel bias in the diplomatic process, after Congress passed a resolution
calling on the administration to “deny recognition to any unilaterally declared
The PA also reissued appeals to EU countries to
recognize a Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967, lines, but suffered
another rebuff from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who restated the
need for a negotiated solution.
Rattling The Cage: Goodbye Obama, hello world
PA expresses discontent with current US administration
Israeli officials, meanwhile, said they
were not overly concerned that a UN Security Council resolution calling for
Israel to stop “illegal” settlement activity was immediately in the works,
despite a call on Wednesday night by Arab League foreign ministers to seek such
“This is not an imminent threat,” one diplomatic official
said, saying that often Arab League statements were just that – statements that
were not translated into operative policy. He said it would take time,
and US acquiescence, for this to move through the Security Council.
Arab League foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo, issued a statement saying they
wanted to obtain a decision from the Security Council “that confirms, among
other things, the illegal nature of this [settlement] activity and that would
oblige Israel to stop it.”
Another Israeli official said that as chances
were dimming that the Palestinians could get the US to agree to a UN Security
Council declaration recognizing a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines, they were
looking for Israel’s “diplomatic and public diplomacy Achilles’ heel,” which is
Israel has almost no support around the world for its
settlement policy, the official said, so the Palestinians – following US
President Barack Obama’s lead – are focusing on that.
The official said
that while the US would be unlikely to veto a resolution condemning settlements,
it might work behind the scenes to keep the resolution from coming to the
Security Council, arguing that this would only antagonize Israel and do nothing
to promote the diplomatic process.
At the same time, the officials
admitted, it was a good “lever” for the US to have over Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu in an effort to get him to show more “flexibility” on core-issue
negotiations.Ross discusses "security aspects" of settlement with Barak
Senior White House adviser Dennis Ross met with Defense
Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi, OC
Military Intelligence Maj. Gen- Yoav Kochavi, and the head of the Defense
Ministry’s diplomatic-security bureau, Amos Gilad, on Thursday for discussions
that Barak said afterward dealt with various “security aspects” of a peace
settlement with the Palestinians.
Israeli officials said this was part of
an American effort to chart the sides’ positions on the core issues. Netanyahu
convened a meeting of his senior ministers – the Septet – on Thursday to discuss
the new US approach to the diplomatic process.
The officials would not
confirm, however, reports that US envoy George Mitchell proposed to the
Palestinians six weeks of “parallel” negotiations, during which the US would
discuss with each side its positions on the core issues, but not reveal these
positions to the other side. The goal of these talks would be to help the US
understand where the sides were on these issues, so they could draw up a
strategy to renew direct talks.
AFP quoted Azzam al- Ahmad, a senior
member of Fatah’s central committee, as saying that there would be not talks of
any kind without a settlement freeze.
“There will not be any negotiations
with Israel, in any form – direct, indirect or parallel – without an end to settlement,” he
The Palestinians suffered another setback in their hopes to get the
world to unilaterally impose a solution, when the US Congress passed a
resolution Wednesday calling on the administration to “deny recognition to any
unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United
Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside
of an agreement negotiated by the two parties.”PA slams US for "bias in favor of settlements"
As a result of this
resolution, the PA stepped up its criticism of the US administration and
reiterated an appeal to EU countries to recognize a Palestinian state along the
Ashton, however, issued a statement after meeting Mitchell in
Brussels that seemed to rule out any EU support for such a move. “We recognize
that our common goals for peace and security in the Middle East should be
achieved through negotiations and with the support of the international
community,” the statement read.
Nimer Hammad, a political adviser to
Abbas, condemned the US congressional resolution as “proof of US bias in favor
of settlement expansion.” Hammad said that the Palestinians had been
expecting Congress to pass a resolution calling on Israel to freeze all
“This bias in favor of Israel will only increase
anti-US sentiments in the region,” he said. “It’s unfortunate to see the US once
again standing alone with Israeli expansion and denial of Palestinian
The PLO Executive Committee also strongly condemned the
resolution, claiming it would “encourage Israel to continue with its anti-peace
policy under the direct protection of the Americans.”
US opposition to a
unilateral declaration of statehood would further undermine Washington’s
credibility and weaken its image in the Middle East, the committee
said.PA makes appeals to EU countries to recognize state
The PA confirmed that it had asked a number of EU countries to
recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders even without an agreement with
The appeal was made separately to France, Britain, Denmark and
Sweden. Earlier this week, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat sent a letter
to the EU with a similar demand.
In a related development, Naor Gilon,
the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Western Europe, protested to
Norway’s charge d’affaires about Oslo’s upgrade of the Palestinian presence in
Norway from representation to delegate status.
Gilon, according to the
Foreign Ministry, said that in light of the Palestinian refusal to negotiate,
this upgrade “does not contribute to promoting or advancing the peace
What the upgrade does do, he said, is “reinforce the
Palestinian illusion that they could achieve political gains without directly
negotiating with Israel.”
He also said the Norwegian move raised
questions about whether Norway “has the balance required” of a country that
chairs the Ad Hoc Liason Group, or donor group to the Palestinians. He further
protested that Israel learned of the move through the press and not directly
from the Norwegians.