(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority has requested an urgent meeting of the Arab League
foreign ministers to discuss the future of the peace process, after the
moratorium on settlement construction ended on Sunday night.
came as the PA continued to issue conflicting statements as to how it would
respond if the Israeli government did not extend the moratorium.
Moratorium ends, but major building not expected
Sha'ath: Netanyahu can save talks by extending freeze
President Mahmoud Abbas and a senior official in Ramallah indicated that they
would not pull out of the US-sponsored direct talks with Israel, other
Palestinian representatives threatened to halt the negotiations if the
construction in the settlements were resumed.
Speaking after meeting with
Jewish writers and intellectuals in Paris on Sunday, Abbas said there is only
one choice for Israel: “Either peace or settlements,” the Palestinian leader
“If it’s peace, then it’s through talks. If (Israel) doesn’t choose
it, it will be a waste of time, a waste of opportunities,” Abbas
Abbas is scheduled to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy on
The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quoted Abbas as saying that
“if there is no understanding on the settlement freeze, we will go back to the
Palestinian institutions and the Arab League.”
Abbas said that until two
days ago, he hadn’t received any Israeli or American “formulas” and that he was
still waiting for a final answer on the moratorium.
The PA president
pointed out that US President Barack Obama had not given the Palestinians any
assurances on the issue of settlement construction or the establishment of a
Palestinian state within one year.
“Obama only talked about hopes,” Abbas
said. “Obama undoubtedly has good intentions, but the test lies in the
implementation of his good positions.”
Abbas revealed that the
Palestinians were demanding that a third party be present along the borders of
the future Palestinian state “so as to calm all parties.” He reiterated his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
the leaders of the Jewish community [in the US] when I met with them that every
year they demand something new and we are not prepared to accept this at all,”
he said. “When they talk about a Jewish state, it’s because they want to get rid
of all the Arabs living in Israel.”
Abbas also rejected the possibility
of “militarizing” the intifada.
“We tried it before, and it led to
destruction,” he cautioned.
A senior PA official in Ramallah reiterated
on Sunday that the Palestinians would continue with the direct talks even if the
moratorium on settlement construction were not extended.
said that pulling out of the talks at this stage “would harm the interests of
However, Nabil Shaath, a member of the PA delegation
to the direct talks, said that the negotiations would be halted if the freeze
“Either the moratorium is extended or the peace process
will unfortunately be stopped,” he said. “Israel will bear full
Shaath said that the Palestinians were not demanding
that Israel dismantle the settlements now.
“This is something that we
will talk about,” he said. “Why doesn’t Israel extend the freeze for at least
another five months?” Maher Ghnaim, the PA minister for settlement and wall
affairs, said that the peace talks couldn’t continue while construction in the
settlements was under way.
He claimed that even during the 10-month
moratorium, Israel had not stopped “building in the settlements, confiscating
lands and demolishing houses.”
In another development, the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announced that it was suspending its
activities in the PLO in protest of the direct talks between the PA and
The PFLP is one of several Palestinian groups that operate under
the umbrella of the PLO.
Abbas’s Fatah faction is the largest group in
Muhammad Dahlan of the Fatah Central Council expressed regret
over the decision, which he described as “disappointing.”AP contributed
to this report.