PA: We Want Presence in Area C

PA Prime Minister Fayad calls on international community to “stop the occupation in Judea and Samaria”.

Elad Benari, | updated: 05:15

PA Chairman Abbas
PA Chairman Abbas
Flash 90

The visit this week by Finland’s President to the Palestinian Authority was used by PA leadership to emphasize its positions regarding the current negotiations and a future political settlement with Israel.

During a joint press conference in Ramallah with Finnish President Tarja Halonen, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that the issue of defining Israel as a Jewish state does not apply to the Arabs since PA leadership has already recognized Israel in the mutual recognition document signed in 1993. Abbas added that if Israelis want to call themselves by any name, they should turn to the UN and the international community.

Abbas also said that the Arabs believe in the two-state solution, meaning a Palestinian State within the pre '67 war borders and Israel living side by side in security and stability. He demanded that Israel stop construction in Judea and Samaria communities, which he described as “illegal”. He said that the issues of Judea and Samaria, refugees and Jerusalem could be negotiated. It is debatable whether the present PA government, whose term is long over and which is not in control of Hamas led Gaza,, could make any binding decisions.

He expressed his willingness to return to direct negotiations with Israel to discuss the issue of border security, but stipulated that with the success of American pressure on Israel to extend the period of freezing construction in Judea and Samaria, in accordance with the decision of the Monitoring Committee of the Arab League, who decided last week to give the United States an ultimatum: If U.S. leaders do not pressure Israel into accepting Arab demands within a month, the Palestinian Authority will give up on the next round of negotiations..

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who also met with Halonen, noted that the international community should bear direct responsibility for ending what he called the “occupation” and for establishing an independent Palestinian state within the pre  '67 war borders, called "Auschwitz borders" by the late statesman Abba Eban. He called for direct and effective intervention by the international community to force Israel to implement the Palestinian interpretation of the principles of international law at the top of which is a complete cessation of construction in Judea and Samaria communities. He also demanded that Israel allow the presence of PA security officials in all PA-controlled areas and activate the safety passages between the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria whick cross southern Israel.

Fayyad blamed Israel for imposing restrictions on the PA in Area C, which represents, he claims, 60% of Judea and Samaria. These restrictions, claimed Fayyad, do not allow for the development of these areas. He brought as examples the Ofer Prison, the community of Pisgat Ze’ev (which Fayyad referred to as a “settlement” but is in fact a large residential neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem) and Road 443, on which he claimed Arabs are not allowed to drive (in fact, while the road was closed to Arabs after a series of terror attacks on it claimed the lives of several Israelis, a recent court ruling said that the road should be reopened for Arab traffic and it has been opened).

“Area C is not in dispute, and is an integral part of occupied Palestinian land from '67, on which the State of Palestine will be established,” Fayyad stressed.

Finnish President Tarja Halonen, who was present at the press conference with Abbas and Fayyad, completed a visit to the region this week. She visited Israel for the first time and met with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other officials. Her four-day schedule was packed with tours that included trips to the Mount Herzl military cemetery, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Jerusalem Forest.

She planted a tree in the Jerusalem Forest and said that Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the European Union, the United States and countries across the region must share in taking responsibility for working to “make the [new generations] optimistic and committed to peace.”