Less than a week before torpedoing the peace talks on Tuesday, by breaching talk conditions in a unilateral request to join international institutions, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated that war better serves his interests, but is not practical at this time.
Abbas spoke to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah last Wednesday, at the conclusion of a two day Arab League Summit that ended with an official rejection of recognition for Israel as the Jewish state, in support of Abbas's position.
"At the Arab League Summit the need to pull the (Arab Peace) Initiative from the (negotiations) table was raised more than once, but what is the appropriate alternative?" asked Abbas.
The PA leader declared "there are two possibilities: no war and no peace, or war. We are convinced that the first option doesn't serve our interests."
"Therefore we must clarify the second option," continued Abbas. "I ask the Arab leaders - are they ready for war? We certainly aren't prepared currently for war. And therefore we have no choice but to keep the Arab Peace Initiative on the table and to adopt it."
The Initiative, presented in 2002 by Saudi Arabia, demands that Israel withdraw completely from Judea and Samaria, at which point the 22 Arab countries would supposedly normalize relations with Israel.
"The rifle is here!"
Abbas's statements saying a status of "no war and no peace" is not in PA interests come on the heels of PA calls for renewed terrorism.
A week before Abbas's comments, Tawfiq Tirawi, a senior member of Abbas's Fatah faction, declared in a televised ceremony in support of Abbas: "we in this movement have not cast down the rifle and have not let go of the rifle. The rifle is here!"
As for current peace talks, Tirawi remarked they are only "one of the methods of struggle. But the rifle is here, and it can burst forth at any moment."
Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki noted in February that his party "has not ruled out the military options." He added "we have not forgotten our principles or our goals...we adhered to our entire legacy of struggle, so that it can be resorted to at the right time."
In another interview in February, Zaki added that a US-brokered peace deal would only be the "first stage" in eradicating Israel entirely.