Abbas: PA will ask UN to recognize Palestinian state

PA president says if peace process fails would request state be along 1967 borders; stresses won't return to negotiating table unless Israel stops settlement construction.

By
October 28, 2010 17:29
Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Omar Suleiman of Egypt.

gheit and suleiman_311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday reiterated that the Palestinians won’t return to the negotiating table unless Israel stopped all construction in the settlements.

Abbas also said that the Palestinians would ask the US and United Nations Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if the peace process failed.

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Abbas also thanked Egypt for its efforts to achieve reconciliation between his Fatah faction and Hamas. However, he said he did not know at this phase whether there was room for optimism.

Hamas and Fatah negotiators are scheduled to meet next week in yet another bid to solve their dispute.

The Egyptian foreign minister said after the talks that Cairo was in touch with Israel and the US to reach agreement on extending the moratorium on settlement construction. He said that Egypt fully supported the PA position calling for a total cessation of settlement construction so as to pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks.

Although Geith and Suleiman did not come to Jerusalem for meetings on Thursday, on Monday Uzi Arad, the head of the National Security Council, went to Egypt and met with Suleiman regarding ideas on how to re-start the talks.

Arad is also believed to have discussed the wider regional situation, including recent developments in Gaza and Lebanon. Egypt, as well as Saudi Arabia, is extremely concerned – according to diplomatic officials – about the inroads Iran is making in both locations.

In a related matter, Israeli sources responded to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's comments published Thursday in the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera that plans are under way to declare an independent Palestinian state next year, by saying that a Palestinian state is possible, but will only come into being through negotiations.

"If they chose the unilateral option, we have unilateral options as well," one official said, without elaborating. He said that Yasser Arafat declared a state back in 1988, which was indeed recognized by nearly 100 countries, but did not substantively change anything for the Palestinians.

"The only way is through negotiations," he said.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, meanwhile, stated that he had no ambitions to succeed Abbas. He said he was also opposed to the idea of dismantling the PA if the peace talks with Israel fail.

“The Palestinian Authority is the most important step in the project of building an independent Palestinian state,” Fayyad told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

Fayyad denied allegations that he had been depriving Fatah of financial aid. “I haven’t seen anything from Fatah but support and cooperation,” he stressed. “I have a detailed and in-depth relationship with Fatah, which is the movement of the Palestinian people and not just a faction belonging to its official members.”

Fayyad said he also had good and warm relations with Abbas, “the president of all of us and the commander-in-chief of our soldiers.”

Fayyad said that his ambition was to “celebrate in Jerusalem with the Palestinian people the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. I have no other ambitions beyond that.”

Fayyad defended his government as an elected body and dismissed charges of betraying the Palestinians. “My government is the government of the Palestinian people and I was elected and was and still am a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council,” he said.

Fayyad said that his government was also investing in various projects in the Gaza Strip, which has been under the control of Hamas since 2007. He revealed that in the last three years his government, in cooperation with international organizations, spent approximately 260 million in the Gaza Strip.

The PA prime minister also disclosed that he has been in touch with Hamas in a bid to end the power struggle between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “I certainly have personal relations with many of them,” he said. “They are living amongst us and I worked with them in the national unity government when I was finance minister. I also worked with them as member of the Palestinian parliament."


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