Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is reported to have threatened to resign if the upcoming peace conference in Annapolis fails, paving the way for another round of violence and for the emergence of al-Qaida in the Palestinian territories.
Abbas made the threat during his meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Ramallah last Wednesday.
PA officials in Ramallah would neither confirm nor deny the report.
However, they pointed out that Abbas was "very disappointed" by the results of Rice's last shuttle tour in the region.
Because of the tensions, Abbas and Rice refrained from holding a joint press conference after the meeting, they added.
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jareeda quoted a top PA official as saying that Abbas also warned that the US and Israel would have to deal with al-Qaida and a third intifada if the conference failed.
"It was a very tough meeting," the official said. "President Abbas threatened to resign and to deliver a public speech that would cause the US political difficulties and earthquakes not only in the Palestinian territories, but among US allies throughout the world as well."
The PA official also quoted Abbas as telling Rice that the absence of his "moderate" policies would force Washington to deal with a "third intifada."
The US, Abbas added, would also have to face the threat of al-Qaida, whose members, he claimed, had secretly infiltrated the Gaza Strip.
The official added that Abbas made it clear during the meeting that had it not been for his Fatah security forces in the West Bank, Iranian, Hizbullah and al-Qaida operatives would have infiltrated Israeli cities.
"You would have heard about hundreds of civilians killed every day in Israel had it not been for our efforts," Abbas was quoted as saying.
The official told the newspaper that he had never witnessed Abbas in such a mood.
He said Abbas emphasized during the talks that he was not prepared to go the peace conference simply to bolster Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's popularity among the Israeli public.
Abbas also insisted that an agreement on all the "core" issues be reached with Israel ahead of the conference.