PA: Lack of peace, tax funds will ruin us

‘The Palestinians have not picked up the ball,’ Israeli official says of deadlock in talks

PA President Abbas with PM Netanyahu 311 (R) (photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
PA President Abbas with PM Netanyahu 311 (R)
(photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
The Palestinian Authority warned Monday it could collapse due to the absence of peace and the lack of its tax funds.
The dire warning was issued by Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with the PA leadership.RELATED:Dennis Ross legacy: Iran isolated, peace missingAbbas vows to push ahead with UN membership bid
He spoke before a Monday meeting in Ramallah between PA officials, mid-level Quartet envoys and Quartet representative Tony Blair.
The Quartet envoys had hoped to pressure both the PA and Israel to return to the negotiating table.
But in separate meetings they held in both Jerusalem and Ramallah, they failed to make any noticeable progress.
In a strongly critical statement, Ahmed said the Quartet was a “name void of content.” It is facing the “last test,” he added.
The PA “was collapsing” largely because of the Israeli Security Cabinet decision to freeze the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians and the continued stalemate in the peace process.
Israel blamed the Palestinians for the deadlock.
“Israel is disappointed that the Palestinians have not picked up the ball,” an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post after a Jerusalem meeting the Quartet held with the prime minister’s special envoy, Yitzhak Molcho.
“The [the Palestinians] refused to accept the Quartet’s call for the immediate resumption of talks,” said the official.
The Palestinians, in turn, said they were disappointed that Israel had not heeded their call to freeze settlement construction and Jewish east Jerusalem building.
At the Ramallah meeting, the PA asked the envoys from – the US, EU, UN and Russia – to clarify the “practical measures that they intend to take should Israel continue with it current policies [of settlement construction],” Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday.
Erekat said after meeting with Quartet representatives that the clarification was needed to ensure the success of any future peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.
The PA wants to hear from the Quartet “much more than statements and press releases that have proven to be ineffective in the face of continued Israeli intransigence,” Erekat said.
Erekat said he briefed the Quartet representatives on the position of the PLO regarding a solution for all the core issues.
The meeting in Ramallah was also attended by PA negotiator Muhammad Shtayyeh and a number of advisors from the PLO’s negotiations department.
“We are prepared to discuss all the final status issues the moment Israel proves that it’s serious and is committed to freezing illegal construction in the occupied Palestinian territories, including occupied east Jerusalem, and accepts the 1967 borders as the basis for a two-state solution,” Erekat explained. “The two-state solution and settlements don’t go together.”
He said the PA has made it clear that in order to revive the direct talks, Israel should abide by its commitments in accordance with international law and the Road Map.
“This is not a favor that Israel would be doing, but it’s an integral part of an equation that guarantees a credible dialogue that would lead to a speedy end of occupation and the conflict,” Erekat said.
He also reiterated the PA’s demand for the release of Palestinian prisoners who were imprisoned before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
But an Israeli official noted that in the past, talks took place without this demand and there was no need at this time to introduce new barriers to the process.
“Israel remains ready for the immediate resumption of peace talks without preconditions,” the Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post.
“Unfortunately the Palestinians continue to put their own conditions on the table and despite the diplomatic language that they are using, the bottom line is that they are refusing to allow direct negotiations to start,” the Israeli official said.
In the past few months the members of the Quartet have explored a number of options, including asking Israel to freeze settlements in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people.
Alternatively, the Quartet has suggested that instead of a settlement freeze, Israel could offer strong language on the issue of borders.
In a statement it released to the press, the Quartet said its envoys along with Blair “continued to encourage the parties to resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions.”
“Envoys discussed with the parties their development of proposals on territory and security in the context of our shared commitment to direct talks on the basis of the September 23 2011 Quartet statement,” the statement said. “Envoys called upon the parties to create a conducive environment for restarting talks and urged the parties to refrain from provocative actions.”
The Quartet said it would remain in close touch with Israeli and Palestinians officials. It added that it would have a follow-up meeting in December.
Earlier, PA President Mahmoud Abbas met in Ramallah with Blair and repeated his demand for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, saying this was one of the Palestinians’ top priorities.
Abbas reiterated his commitment to the peace process with Israel and said he was prepared to work with the Quartet to ensure the success of their efforts to resume the peace negotiations.
Abbas told Blair the key to the resumption of the direct peace lied in a full cessation of settlement construction and recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution.