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Fatah Official: PA Won't Be Dismantled

Fatah official tries to play down rumors PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas would dismantle the PA, says PA officials were "looking for solutions."
By Gavriel Queenan
First Publish: 10/28/2011, 3:01 PM

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Senior Fatah official Mahmoud al-Aloul said Friday there is no plan to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, the semi-official Maan News reported.

The central committee member said officials were calling for "a definition of the situation of the PA," and discussing plans to "return it to its former stature."

"The government is in a bad situation and is looking for solutions, but not to dismantle (the PA)," al-Aloul said.

However, al-Aloul admitted there were diverse views on how to proceed among senior Fatah leaders, "Some consider international guardianship, others resisting the occupation, and others are looking for one state [a bi-national state in Israel] ... others think of eradicating previous agreements [namely those agreements with Israel under which the PA exists -ed]."

The PA was set up as an interim pseudo-state under the Oslo Accords 17 years ago, but it is increasingly seen as  compromised body "that eases the burden of occupation for Israel" by its constituents.

PA leaders have twice rejected offers by Israeli officials for over 90% of Judea and Samaria, and have refused to come to the negotiating table for nearly two years, insisting Israel first freeze construction in ‘disputed territories.’

Israeli officials say talks can only proceed without precondition from either side, noting a previous 10-month building freeze by Israel aimed at meeting PA demands was rebuffed and met with more preconditions – including using the pre-1967 lines as a basis for talks.

President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday he would address the benefits of continuing the PA in discussions with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in early November, prompting rumors in Israel's press he would shut the PA down.

"The Authority is not an authority. People and Palestinian institutions are asking me about the benefits of the continuation of the Authority (and) we want to answer this question," Abbas said in an address published on Thursday by the official news agency WAFA.

Abbas has repeatedly made tantrum-like threats to dismantle the Palestinian Authority when thwarted on the diplomatic front vis-a-vis Israel in recent months.

Before his statehood bid at the United Nations in September – which faces a promised negative recommendation from the US in the Security Council – Abbas’ rhetoric was seen as a threat intended to put pressure on Israeli officials.

However, with his bid “going nowhere” according to US officials, Fatah officials appear to be considering Abbas’ threat to dismantle the PA a real – if remote – possibility.  Under such circumstances Israel would reassume security and civil administration of enclaves currently run by the PA.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made it clear Abbas' threats to close the PA's doors are luke warm at best. A spokesman in Netanyahu's office recently said, while Israel would prefer the PA continue, its shutting down "wouldn't be the end of the world."