PA Chairman Threatens One State

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to give up the fight to transform the PA into an independent Arab country.

Chana Ya'ar, | updated: 10:40

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to give up the fight to transform the PA into an independent Arab country.

“If Israel does not stop building settlements, and if the United States support for the negotiations collapses, I will work to end Palestinian self-rule in the 'occupied territories',” Abbas announced Friday from Ramallah on local government-controlled PA TV. “I cannot be the president of a non-existent Authority as long as Israeli occupation of the West Bank continues."

On the other hand, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has said in past speeches that he will move to unilaterally declare an independent PA country by August 2011 if final status talks have not reached a successful conclusion by that time. It is not clear whether Abbas and Fayyad discussed the issue prior to Abbas's declaration on Friday, nor is Fayyad's future path clear if Abbas decides to proceed with his plan.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner threatened separately in October to formally recognize a new independent PA country, to be named "Palestine," if final status talks with Israel are "delayed."  But that stance did not take into account the declaration that followed in November when the Fatah Revolutionary Council led by Abbas officially stated its recommendation that the PA reject all efforts to get the talks back on track unless Israel completely freezes Jewish construction in every area demanded by the PA for its new country, including many Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. 

Fatah, which leads the PA, officially declared during its three-day conference its formal refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. Its central Fatah Revolutionary Council also voted to oppose the concept of swapping land for peace, and and refused to support recent efforts by the U.S. to bring Israel and the PA back to the negotiating table because “it could harm Palestinian rights and prolong the occupation.”

The Palestinian Authority was established under the 1993 Oslo Accords which formally launched negotiations with Israel and the autonomous entity was tasked with governing Arabs residing in over 90% of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, making self government a reality and "occupation" a euphemism.

During the final month of a 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, Abbas was persuaded to resume direct talks on September 2, after a hiatus of nearly two years, but quickly abandoned the negotiations after the moratorium ended as scheduled on September 26.

The PA chairman was cagey in his response to a specific question as to whether he was referring to a dissolution of the Ramallah-based government, which exerts control solely over PA areas of Judea and Samaria. (Gaza is currently controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, and governed separately.)

“I say that to the Israelis: I inform them that, as occupiers, they can stay put,” Abbas was quoted by the AFP news service. “But the situation cannot remain unchanged.”

Each proposal offered by Israel in the past 17 years has been rejected by the Palestinian Authority, including those that included the handover of more than 95 percent of land restored to Israel from Jordanian occupation during the 1967 Six Day War.

The Fatah charter, drafted in 1964, calls for the “demolition” of the State of Israel as well as the “eradication of the Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.” It has never been repealed.