PLO: Full Steam Ahead With Unilateral Track

Taysir Khalid of the PLO executive says there will be no land swaps, no conciliatory gestures, and that PA unilateralism will continue.

Gabe Kahn.,

Taysir Khalid
Taysir Khalid
Flash 90

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) announced Monday it would drop the "land swap" formula in negotiations with Israel.

Taysir Khalid of the PLO Executive Committee and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror organizations told Gulf News the land-swap formula was "mere talk" by Israelis and international mediators.

"We have never signed an agreement with Israel which agrees to the land swap formula," he added. "The land swap formula is hearsay in the negotiation track."

PA negotiators, Khalid said, must reach an agreement on borders and arrange for the withdrawal of Israeli troops - as well as settling other final status issues - before any "land swap" can be discussed.

"It is time for this mistake to get corrected," he stressed.

PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has already demanded Israel agree to the pre-1967 lines as a basis for a future PA state before negotiations can begin. He has also demanded Israel implement a second building freeze in the 'disputed territories' as a precondition for talks.

Israel has said it is ready to resume negotiations without preconditions at any time. Officials in Jerusalem have rejected a renewed building freeze noting a previous 10-month freeze aimed at meeting PA demands resulted not in resumed talks - but additional preconditions.

Setting borders before negotiations even begin, they point out, renders moot the entire point of bilateral negotiations.

Khalid also told Gulf News the PLO believes recent setback at the United Nations did not spell the end for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas' unilateral track - despite a promised US veto for his statehood application in the Security Council.

"We will seek a non-member state status for Palestine at the UN General Assembly as per the European proposal (Sarkozy Plan)," he said.

"A UN General Assembly resolution highlighting the two-state solution formula, the need to resolve the core issues, upgrading the status of Palestine to a non-member state, and the right of Palestine to be admitted to all the UN agencies will be an effective tool in Palestinian hands when they return to the UN Security Council to seek full UN membership," he explained.

"Armed with a resolution from the UN General Assembly, it will be the ideal timing and position for the Palestinians to return to the UN Security Council seeking full UN membership," he said.

Khalid also admitted the PA has no interest in reaching a bilateral agreement with Israel - that is, peace - and plans to continue on its current unilateral track.

"The PLO totally rejects all the conciliatory formulas offered by the Mideast Quartet. There is no room even to consider them," he said.