Israel asks its embassies to thwart PA unilateralism

Foreign Ministry asks its diplomats to prevent Palestinian moves seeking recognition; tensions mount between Fayyad and PA over statehood.

Palestinian flag 311 AP (photo credit: Associated Press)
Palestinian flag 311 AP
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Foreign Ministry on Monday sent a cable to its embassies abroad instructing diplomats to thwart Palestinian moves to seek unilateral recognition of statehood, particularly at the UN, according to diplomatic sources.
“There is no substitute for direct negotiations,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy.
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Establishing a Palestinian state is not like asking people to mark a favorite page on Facebook, he said.
He added that it was in the Palestinians’ best interests to talk with Israel instead of “trying to inflame” the international arena.
The Palestinian Authority reaffirmed on Monday its determination to unilaterally seek recognition by the international community of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders despite statements to the contrary by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
The announcement came amid talk in Ramallah of mounting tensions between Fayyad and the PA leadership over whether the Palestinians should proceed with plans to unilaterally declare a state.
Fayyad declared over the past few days his opposition to the PA’s intention to seek unilateral statehood. He explained that the Palestinians didn’t want a “Mickey Mouse” state that had no sovereignty.
“We are looking for a state of Palestine, not a unilateral declaration of statehood,” Fayyad said.
His statements drew criticism from some PA and Fatah officials in the West Bank.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official and close adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, announced that the Palestinian leadership would pursue its efforts with the UN Security Council and General Assembly to win backing for a unilateral declaration of statehood.
“We are working to ensure the backing of as many countries as possible [for the unilateral declaration] before the next session of the UN General Assembly,” Abed Rabbo said. He criticized the US administration for opposing the idea.
A top aide to Abbas said in response to Fayyad’s remarks: “The prime minister expressed his personal opinion. The Palestinian leadership has a different view.”
Fatah sources told the London-based Asharq Alawsat newspaper that Fayyad’s statements were “unacceptable, incomprehensible and surprising.”
The sources said that the statement contradicted efforts made by Fatah and Abbas to gain international recognition for an independent Palestinian state.
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat contacted Fayyad to reprimand him and ask him to explain his comments, the sources added.
Another negotiator, Nabil Shaath, said in response to Fayyad’s statements: “The Palestinian people do not need the permission of anyone to declare their independence.”
Palestinians have intensified their focus on unilateral statehood after briefly holding direct talks with Israel in September.
The Palestinians broke off the talks after Israel’s 10-month moratorium on construction in the settlements expired on September 26 and Israel did not extend it. They are now refusing to resume talks until Israel stops all construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
An Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post that the best way for the Palestinians to achieve statehood was to return to the negotiating table.
“The Palestinians have to make a clear choice between meaningless declarative statements or meaningful negotiations with Israel,” the official said.
“One choice, the former, is cosmetic and offers only a dead end,” the official said. “The latter offers a two-state solution.”
The current impasse in the peace process stems directly from the Palestinian refusal to negotiate directly with Israel, said the official.
“Everything else is a result of that,” the official added.
On one hand, the Palestinians are saying that they do not want to negotiate with Israel, and on the other hand, they are saying that they have to go to the international community because negotiations are going nowhere, said the official.
“It is a logically inconsistent position,” the official said.
In 1988 the Palestinians declared an independent state that was recognized by dozens of countries, but that did not change the Palestinians’ status.
“The idea that there is some outside imposed solution is a myth,” said the official.