Israel: PA threat to declare state unilaterally a ‘mirage’

Erekat: If US rejects request, we might take up the issue with UN Security Council; Israeli official: There is no substitute for direct negotiations.

Arab League 311 (photo credit: AP)
Arab League 311
(photo credit: AP)
Israeli government officials Saturday night dismissed as “unrealistic” and a “mirage” Palestinian threats to get the US or the UN Security Council to recognize an independent Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines if the peace talks collapse.
The Palestinian Authority announced over the weekend – following the Arab League meeting in Libya that gave the US a 30-day grace period to get Israel to agree to another settlement construction moratorium – that it was considering “alternatives” in case the peace talks collapsed, including seeking US or UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state.
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In Libya on Saturday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas asked Arab leaders to consider alternatives to the negotiations, said Saeb Erekat, a top aide to the Palestinian president.
Erekat said Abbas asked Arab leaders “to press the American administration to recognize an independent Palestinian state within the borders of 1967.”
If the Americans reject the request, the Palestinians might take up the issue with the Security Council nonetheless, Erekat said.
Abbas told the summit that he did not expect Israel to budge on the settlement issue, and that in the meantime opposition to continuing the talks is building among the Palestinian people, according to two Arab diplomats.
“We have exhausted all our alternatives,” the diplomats quoted Abbas as saying. They spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss information from the closed session.
A PA official in Ramallah said the Arab League supported the idea of seeking US or UN recognition of a Palestinian state.
“The Palestinian leadership will give the US administration another chance to solve the crisis,” he said. “If their efforts fail in the next 30 days, we will go to the Americans and the United Nations.”
Israeli officials took the threat in stride.
“There is no substitute for direct negotiations and a historic agreement,” one official said. “Everything else is a mirage.”
The official, who said these types of threats were part of the PA’s diplomacy, added that such proposals have not proven serious when raised many times in the past, and that the PA understood that only a negotiated solution could bring peace.
He added that over the past year the Palestinians have alternated threats to go to the UN Security Council searching for recognition of Palestinian statehood, with the threat of abandoning the two-state idea and instead pursuing a “one-state solution.”
Although the official refused to speculate on how the US would react if the PA did carry out its threat to get international recognition for statehood, similar proposals in the past have not been embraced by Washington, which consistently has said it wanted to see a negotiated – rather than imposed – settlement.
There is also considerable doubt as to whether a US president could back such a far-reaching proposal that would certainly face huge opposition in both houses of Congress and among large swaths of the American public.
A call in July 2009 by Javier Solana, the previous EU foreign policy chief, for the Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state by a certain deadline if the sides could not reach an agreement on their own, did not gain serious traction in Washington or, for that matter, in many other capitals around the world.
At that time the Foreign Ministry issued a statement rejecting Solana’s proposal, saying that UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, as well as the road map peace plan and previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements established that the solution to the conflict could only be reached through negotiations by the sides.
Khaled Abu Toameh and AP contributed to this report.