The Palestinian Authority is continuing its unilateral track in contravention of the Oslo accords that created it, the Associated Press reports.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with French President Nicholas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the coming months with the aim of convincing them to recognize a PA state with the 1948 armistice lines as its borders and eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
During Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's recent visit to Germany Merkel rejected the notion of unilateral moves on the part of the PA, but also expressed disappointment when the United States cancelled a resumption of talks by the Quartet saying the time was inopportune.
PA negotiator Nabil Sha’ath said Tuesday the PA is determined to pursue its efforts to ask the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state in September. In that vein, he said, the PA would continue building state institutions while moving to isolate Israel in the international arena.
“By September," Sha'ath predicted for the London-based Asharq Al-Aswat, "We would have won the recognition of two-thirds of the UN members. This will entitle us to go to the Security Council and demand full membership.”
He specifically named France, Sweden, and Ireland as western nations who would recognize the PA's unilateral bid for statehood. Sha’ath simultaneously warned that, if the US were to thwart the PA’s moves through a veto, they would take their case to the UN General Assembly.
“Then we could become a member with full rights in the General Assembly," Sha'ath said. "Which means that the independent state of Palestine, which is a UN member, would have its territories occupied by another UN member."
PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusef said the PA is also holding consultations with several of Arab and Islamic countries to present to the Security Council another resolution condemning the settlements as illegal, but noted the US had vetoed a similar move a few weeks ago.
Former PLO Chief Negitionator Saeb Erekat said that if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants peace with the Palestinians, he “must start preparing his people for ending occupation.” A unilateral declaration of statehood circumvents negotiations, compromise and a peace agreement.
Erekat said that Netanyahu must tell his people that Israel will have to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines, recognize the state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital and solve the various final status issues if it wants peace with Arabs in Judea and Samaria.
Erekat also said he hoped the Quartet would immediately recognize the 1948 armistice lines as the basis for the two-state solution. “There is no political or legal justification for the committee not to take such an important step,” Erekat said. “Recognition of the state of Palestine would contribute to the cause of peace and would be regarded as a victory for international law.”
Erekat's reference to Quartet recognition comes as Western diplomats increase pressure on Israel to reach a settlement despite the PA's categorical refusal to come to the negotiating table. One Western diplomat in Israel told the LA Times, "The Israelis are facing a bit of pressure with the way things are proceeding. People are starting to look to the US for some kind of action."
The United States, a key member of the Quartet, has traditionally rejected the 1948 armistice lines as a basis for a peace settlement between the PA and Israel insisting a 'lasting peace' must be based on a negotiated settlement between the two parties and not an externally imposed solution.
According to several international observers the US postponed the latest Quartet meeting due to concerns over an EU peace plan. At the same time, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "The status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is no more sustainable than the political systems that have crumbled in recent months."
Clinton said she intended to bring pressure on both Israel and the PA to reach a final status agreement.
For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently reiterated unilateral moves by the PA would "only unravel the framework of agreements between us and will only bring unilateral steps from Israel's side."
He said Sunday the core issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the PA leadership's refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish State even though, as Netanyahu claimed, Israel is ready to recognize a 'Palestinian State.'
Netanyahu recently told his cabinet Sunday he would use his upcoming trip to address the US Congress as, "an opportunity to present Israel's political and security principles, following dramatic changes in the region and in light of our national interest to ensure our peaceful and secure future."