Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas says he may be willing to extend talks with Israel beyond their current April 29 deadline, throwing a lifeline to US Secretary of State John Kerry's floundering diplomatic efforts between the sides.
Speaking to pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Abbas denied that his decision to unilaterally apply for membership to 15 international agencies should have scuppered talks - despite unilateral moves during the negotiation period being a clear violation of the term of negotiations.
Abbas said the move had nothing to do with Israel and that he was simply acting to uphold the rights of the "Palestinian people".
Nonetheless, any extension of talks would require an acceptance of Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, he cautioned, echoing previous conditions leveled by PA officials for a continuation of talks.
The interview followed a meeting between Abbas and various Arab foreign ministers yesterday, in which he urged Arab states to fulfill their pledges to fund the PA.
That plea came as the Palestinian Authority faces a serious crisis in response to its unilateral moves. Last Thursday Israel informed the PA of a series of punitive measures against it, following the request to join 15 international conventions, ahead of becoming a member of various UN bodies.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued instructions to government ministries forbidding meetings with PA officials, and halting all civilian and economic cooperation with the PA.
A senior member of Abbas's Fatah faction warned the sanctions could cause the Palestinian Authority to collapse altogether.