If talks fail, we will renege on Oslo accords, PA warns

Netanyahu says Palestinians will have to make compromises; PLO's Abed Rabbo accuses Israel of breaking agreements.

abed rabbo 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
abed rabbo 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The Palestinian Authority, which has increasingly indicated it will ask the UN for recognition of statehood, added something else to its arsenal over the weekend by hinting it would unilaterally abrogate the Oslo Accords if the peace process broke down.
“We can’t remain committed to the agreements that were signed with Israel forever,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official and an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
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“One party can’t remain committed while the other party has violated the agreements and even canceled them.”
The time could come when the Palestinians would “reconsider” their commitment to the accords, “if the Israelis continued with the same policy,” Abed Rabbo said.
The Palestinians were also considering seeking US and UN recognition of a Palestinian state on all the Palestinian territories that were captured by Israel in 1967.
Government sources in Jerusalem were unfazed by Abed Rabbo’s threat.
“We hear these sorts of things now and again from the Palestinians, that Abbas will resign, they are going to dismantle the PA, that they are going to take everything to the UN, that they are going to give up on a twostate solution,” one government source said.
“But it is not serious. Everyone understands that the only way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations, everything else is not serious,” the source said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to hint at this as well in a speech in Washington on Wednesday to the American Task Force on Palestine’s gala dinner.
“Negotiations are not easy, but they too are absolutely necessary, Clinton said. “It is always easier to defer decisions than it is to make them. As much as the United States and other nations around the world want to see a resolution to this conflict, only the parties themselves can take the difficult steps that will lead to peace.”
Face-to-face discussions are “the only path that will lead to the fulfillment of the Palestinian national aspirations and the necessary outcome of two states for two peoples,” she said.
Negotiations between Israel and the US, meanwhile, are continuing unabated, according to Israeli sources, to achieve a renewal of the direct talks that broke down when Israel did not extend its 10-month settlement freeze on September 26.
While the US has made clear it would like to see at least a two-month extension of the freeze, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly told the administration such a move would diminish his credibility and likely break up his coalition. Instead, he is reportedly pushing forward a plan that would allow moderate building in specific areas.
One Israeli government source said there was an “internal contradiction” in the various Palestinian threats of alternative courses of action if the talks completely break down.
“They are the ones avoiding the direct talks, and then are the ones saying that the talks are not working and other solutions are needed,” the source said. “They can’t have their cake and eat it, too.”
Netanyahu, in a speech on Friday at the Conference on the Future of the Jewish People, said regarding the diplomatic process that “After 17 years of failure, people should be careful about assuming they have discovered a magic formula for instant success. See, I believe that peace is possible, but it must be based on a readiness for mutual compromise – not just the Israeli side making compromises, but the Palestinian side making some fundamental compromises as well.”
Even the establishment of a formal peace treaty would not guarantee that peace will last, the prime minister said.
“You need security arrangements for two purposes: one, to ensure that the peace lasts; and second, to protect yourself if it doesn’t,” he said.
“In order to protect yourself, you have to ensure that we don’t have a repeat, for the third time, of a situation where we left, we vacated territory and Iran walked in. It walked into Lebanon, it walked into Gaza.
“We cannot allow Iran to walk into the hills dominating Tel Aviv and encircling Jerusalem.
Because that will not merely mean the end of peace, it could put a strategic threat on the future of the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said.
Abed Rabbo’s latest threat to abrogate the Oslo Accords, which was made in an interview with the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, marks yet another escalation in the PA’s rhetorical attacks on Israel in the past few days.
Abed Rabbo and several other top Palestinian officials have recently launched scathing attacks on Israel, accusing the government of “spreading lies” and “deception.”
Different Palestinian officials have vehemently rejected Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Abed Rabbo condemned the demand as “another Israeli lie.”
He said that Israeli right-wingers were raising the demand because they want to “Judaize” Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and not only Israel.
He claimed that those who were making this demand were seeking to “legalize” Jewish presence on Palestinian territories while turning the Palestinians into illegal residents.
Abed Rabbo said the PLO had already recognized the existence of Israel when it signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “Back then, all we got from Israel was recognition of the PLO as the body representing the Palestinians,” he added.
“We didn’t get from Israel recognition of the Palestinian state and its borders. Unfortunately, our recognition [of Israel] was complete, while their recognition was partial and insufficient. This is the situation today and we must not repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Abed Rabbo said that the Palestinians still haven’t received “new ideas” about finding a solution to the crisis surrounding Israel’s refusal to extend the settlement freeze.
“Apparently, the Americans have given Israel some offers to encourage them to return to the negotiating table,” he said. “Some of these offers include a promise to supply Israel with new weapons. This is something related to bilateral relations between Israel and the US, and we don’t care. But we have made it clear to the Americans that they should not be talking to Israel about anything that may affect the future of the Palestinian territories. They must not talk to Israel about the future of the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem or the settlement blocs that Israel wants to keep."
In a related development, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement on Saturday night in response to an interview New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman gave to Channel 10 asserting that many Americans are becoming “fed up” with Israel, saying that in “complete contrast” to what Friedman said, “American public support for Israel is today almost at record highs.”
Friedman said that while the American public was by no means anti-Israel, they no longer care about the Israeli-Arab conflict and this could eventually hurt Israel’s national security, as the US is Israel’s only friend.
Two recent polls, however, one commissioned by the American Jewish Committee and one by the Emergency Committee for Israel, found support for Israel running high, with the later poll showing that – on the eve of the November midterm elections – 53 percent of Americans said they would be more likely to vote for a pro-Israel candidate, and 54% saying that if they agreed with a candidate on most other issues, they could not vote for him if he were “anti-Israel.”