Abbas threatens to quit, again, if peace talks fail

Senior PA official says Abbas made comments regarding his future during a recent meeting of Fatah Central Committee.

Abbas 311 (photo credit: AP)
Abbas 311
(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.
Despite Abbas’s latest threats, the PLO and Fatah have yet to start searching for a replacement, the official said.
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During a recent meeting of the Fatah Central Committee, Abbas declared: “I have made a decision, and I will announce it at the appropriate time.”
The official 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 reason.
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 teams.
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 elaborate.
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 “settlement expansion.”
The day the Israeli moratorium on settlement construction expires will be a “decisive day,” Sha’ath said.
The 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.”