PA leaders invited to Washington in bid to avoid UN plan

PA official tells 'Al-Hayat' US gov't searching for formula to allow both sides to resume peace talks so that PA could abandon UN bid.

Palestinian Flag 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Flag 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In the context of its efforts to persuade the Palestinian Authority to drop its plan to ask the UN in September to recognize a Palestinian state, the US administration has invited PA officials to Washington for talks about ways to avoid the statehood bid.
PA sources said that Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, will travel to Washington soon for talks with US government officials on the statehood plan.
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The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quoted a PA official as saying that the US administration was searching for a formula that would allow the two sides to resume peace negotiations, so that the Palestinians could abandon their statehood plan.
The US has so far failed to come up with such a formula, the official said.
Israeli officials said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has indicated that he would agree to a formula based on entering the negotiations using the pre-1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, as the baseline – as long as the Palestinians agree in turn that the goal of the negotiations would be two states.
The officials said that intensive discussions on this matter have been held involving Israeli, Palestinian, US, EU and Russian officials.
So far the Palestinians have given no sign of a willingness to accept a formula that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, the officials said.
This will be the second time in the last few weeks that Erekat and Abu Rudaineh will be going to Washington for talks on the statehood bid.
Following their last visit, the PA emissaries said that the US administration had made it clear that it would use the veto to thwart the statehood plan at the UN Security Council.
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Erekat, meanwhile, described the statehood initiative as a “positive development” for the two-state solution.
He was speaking following a meeting of Arab League representatives in Doha, Qatar, late Wednesday, to discuss the PA plan.
“Our request for UN permanent membership for the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and Jerusalem as its capital does not mean that we are seeking confrontation with anyone,” Erekat said.
“The move is only aimed at maintaining the option of the two states, and to preserve the peace process.”
He also said that the PA step was not an attempt to isolate or delegitimize Israel.
“We’re going to the UN to delegitimize the settlements and occupation,” he explained. “We seek to legitimize the birth of the Palestinian state.”
The Arab League representatives agreed on a work plan to back the PA’s statehood bid. The plan includes holding meetings and consultations with members of the Security Council to seek their support for the statehood initiative.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.