(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that Israel
has been taking unilateral steps for decades by building settlements, so
the Palestinians might take one of their own — asking the United
Nations to recognize their independent state.
Abbas was replying
to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said the only path to peace is
negotiations. The threat of unilateral action indicates the depth of
the crisis over peace talks restarted just last month by US President
PM: PA asking UN to recognize statehood 'unrealistic'
'Gov't working with US to ensure peace talks continue'
Netanyahu imposed a 10-month halt to new construction in settlements
last November to bring Palestinians back to the table. But it took nine
months of intensive US mediation to restart direct talks.
Netanyahu faced stiff opposition to the building restrictions from
inside his government and said he would not renew the measure, which
expired Sept. 26. Construction has begun on more than 500 new homes
since then, according to settler officials and a count by The Associated
Palestinians insist they will not hold talks while
settlement construction continues. They have been suggesting recently
that they would seek other solutions if the talks fail.
possibility would be asking the United Nations to recognize a
Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem,
territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
not dislodge the Israeli military from the West Bank, dismantle the 120
Jewish settlements there or give Palestinians free access to east
On Sunday, Netanyahu criticized this idea.
think any attempt to circumvent it by going to international bodies
isn't realistic and won't advance true peacemaking in any way,"
Netanyahu said. "Peace will be achieved only through direct talks."
a visit to Bethlehem on Monday, Abbas responded that Israel has been
taking unilateral measures in the West Bank for decades — especially by
"Settlements are a unilateral step done by
Israel," Abbas said. "Is there anything clearer than settlements and
invasions and roadblocks and all that has been done on Palestinian
Given that reality, Abbas said, Netanyahu should not
lecture the Palestinians about a step they might take in the future,
"which is to resort to the United Nations."
have mentioned this possibility before, but Abbas' statement was a rare
on-the-record reference to the idea.