The Palestinian Authority government appeared this week to be circling the wagons and preparing to sever its ties with Israel, even as Arab foreign ministers recommended the United States take a tougher stance in recommending borders for a future PA state, in order to move the process forward.
While several South American countries have announced their recognition of the PA as an independent, sovereign entity, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has hardened his refusal to resume final status talks with Israel.
Arab leaders throughout the region have meanwhile told U.S. officials that the real problem is not Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem -- Abbas's most recent excuse for not resuming final status talks. Rather, the U.S. must simply help the two sides decide where the borders of a new PA country should be, the Arab League said bluntly.
“The negotiation track between the Palestinian [Authority Arabs] and Israelis is futile,” said the Arab League in a statement released following a meeting Wednesday in Cairo. “There is no return to talks. Any resumption [must be] conditioned on a serious offer that ensures the end to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the peace process references.”
The ministers also demanded in their statement “that the American administration declares clearly the two states’ borders be based on the 1967 borders,” a reference to the 1949 Armistice line.*
The Arab League did not express any support at its meeting for a unilateral declaration of independent statehood by the Palestinian Authority, according to the Associated Press, despite an active campaign conducted by the PA towards that goal.
PA Operating on Separate Track, Won't Cooperate on Security
While Arab League leaders continued to try and work out a negotiated solution to the PA-Israel conflict, PA officials appeared to be working on an entirely separate track, involving withdrawal from any official involvement with the Jewish State.
Senior PLO official Hana Amireh said last week the PA has decided to end its security coordination with Israel.
Amireh, who was quoted in a report published last Friday in the UK-based Al Quds al-Arabi newspaper, said the PA might also cancel its other commitments to peace. Allegedly on the chopping block are the PA’s agreements under the U.S.-authored Roadmap plan and the Oslo Accords for which former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat won a Nobel Peace Prize together with Israeli leaders Yitzchak Rabin and Shimon Peres.
A second PLO official and adviser to Abbas, Yasser Abed Rabbo, told the newspaper the Fatah and PLO central committees plan to meet this Friday afternoon to form a “new plan” for the PA.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told an interviewer on Israel’s Channel 2 television that the PA is not interested in unilateral statehood.
“We want a state of Palestine, not a unilateral declaration of statehood,” Fayyad said in the interview, which aired Wednesday evening on Israeli television. “[Such a declaration] is not and will not be a part of our thinking,” he continued.
The claim was a complete reversal of a statement he made to Arabic-language media 18 months prior in which he said he was preparing to unilaterally declare the PA as an independent, sovereign entity in August 2011 if no final status agreement with Israel had been reached by that time.
Meanwhile, U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell arrived in the region on Monday to continue his shuttle diplomacy efforts.
* Ed. Note: In 1967 the borders changed when Israel won the Six Day War, restoring in the process land that remained occupied by Jordan after surrounding Arab nations attacked the Jewish State during the 1948 War of Independence. Among those areas were lands in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.