Qurei warns of possible ‘armed resistance’ if talks fail

All options are open to us, says former PA prime minister; Israeli official calls threat “regrettable”; Abbas rules out West Bank land swaps.

qurei mukata 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press [file])
qurei mukata 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
Ahmed Qurei, a senior PLO official and former Palestinian Authority prime minister, has said he does not rule out the possibility that the Palestinians will launch an “armed resistance” against Israel if the peace talks fail.
Qurei, who was one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, was speaking at a seminar that was held in Cairo earlier this week.
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An Israeli official said Qurei’s threat was “regrettable.”
“It is indeed regrettable that there are still senior Palestinian leaders in the Palestinian Authority who talk about using the path of violence,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “It is clear that the path of violence is a dead end and only through direct negotiation can peace be achieved.”
In a Channel 1 interview on Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he did not believe there would be a third intifada.
“Inshallah, God willing, an intifada will not break out,” Abbas said.
He warned, however, that if a diplomatic solution was not found, despondency and frustration would set in and extremism could win out.
Abbas said in Ramallah earlier Tuesday that he supported a non-violent, “popular resistance” against Israel.
He told a delegation from the villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin in the West Bank: “We support your peaceful and popular resistance. We are proud of this resistance, which has won the backing of the international community.”
The two villages are the scenes of weekly demonstrations against the security barrier.
Abbas condemned the barrier as “immoral and uncivilized,” saying the PA would not accept a “wall on our land. If they want to build a wall, they should do so on their land.”
He also reiterated his strong opposition to the idea of a land swap between Israel and the PA.
Abbas’s remarks came amid reports about a US-initiated compromise to resume direct talks between Israel and the PA.
In response, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for the PA leadership, said that the Palestinians regarded all forms of settlement as “illegal.”
Qurei, 73, who is better known by his nom de guerre Abu Ala, said that the peace talks, diplomatic efforts and “all forms of resistance” should be among the Palestinian negotiators’ options.
“All options are open to us,” he declared. “Negotiations, popular activities, sit-in strikes, civil disobedience or armed resistance.
We shouldn’t drop any of these options, but what is more important now is to achieve Palestinian unity.”
Qurei, who participated in previous rounds of negotiations between Israel and the PA, said that the Palestinians also did not rule out unilaterally declaring the establishment of a Palestinian state and seeking the UN Security Council’s recognition of that state.
He added that the Palestinians’ top priority now was to end the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas so that there would be a consensus about the options they needed to consider, when and if the peace process failed.
Qurei, who is also a senior representative of Fatah, said that the Palestinians would not return to the negotiating table with Israel unless construction in the settlements was halted completely.
He also warned Palestinians and Arabs against pinning high hopes on President Barack Obama.
“We should stop sinking into rosy dreams while the road is full of thorns,” Qurei said. “The US is a country of institutions and the decision-making process is not only in the hands of the president.”
On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a two-hour meeting in his Jerusalem office with Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair.