(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is once again threatening to
resign – this time if the direct peace talks fail, a senior PA official said
over the weekend.
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Despite Abbas’s latest threats, the PLO and Fatah have
yet to start searching for a replacement, the official said.
recent meeting of the Fatah Central Committee, Abbas declared: “I have made a
decision, and I will announce it at the appropriate time.”
told the London- based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that members of the committee
understood Abbas’s declaration as a new threat to resign.
Abbas has over
the past few years repeatedly threatened to resign, each time for a different
Asked what steps the Palestinian leadership would take if and
when Abbas carried out his threat to quit, the PA official, who asked to remain
anonymous, said the Fatah Central Council would then meet to elect one of its
members as PA president.
He added that the PLO Executive Committee,
another key decision-making body, would be asked to ratify the appointment of
the new president.
The official also denied that the Palestinians were
considering creating a new position – PA vice president.
For such a move
to happen, he explained, the Palestinian Legislative Council, which has been
paralyzed for three years because of the split between the West Bank and the
Gaza Strip, would need to pass a law.
The official revealed that the PA
was unhappy with Washington’s plan to focus on bilateral meetings between Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abbas, rather than on talks between delegations
representing the two sides.
He said this was the first time since the
signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993 that the two parties were being
asked to conduct summit talks and not negotiations between two
With regard to the issue of settlement construction, the PA
official reiterated that the Palestinians would pull out of the talks if the
freeze that expires later this month is not extended. He said that US Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton promised Abbas she would solve the issue, but did not
Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the PA delegation to the peace
talks, reiterated over the weekend that Abbas and the Palestinians wouldn’t make
any concessions to Israel.
The two sides have been discussing core issues
in a “positive atmosphere,” he said.
However, the continuation of the
peace process depended on Israel’s actions on the ground, especially regarding
The day the Israeli moratorium on settlement
construction expires will be a “decisive day,” Sha’ath said.
decision, he added, is in the hands of the Israeli government. “If they extend
the settlement freeze, the negotiations will continue,” he said. “If not, the
talks will be stopped.”
Sha’ath reaffirmed the PA’s refusal to recognize
Israel as a Jewish state.
“It’s premature to say what will happen if the
peace talks fail,” he said. “We still don’t know if the PA will be dismantled.”