Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas hinted at plans to dismantle the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the weekend, according to a report in Yediot Aharonot, and thus enact a serious blow to Israel through international legislation.
According to the daily, dismantling the PA would transfer all responsibility for the Palestinian Arabs to Israel, dissolving the Oslo Accords. But it would also leave Israel vulnerable to litigation over the "settlements" in international courts - and change Israel's demographics to tip the religious and ethnic majority.
Abbas first hinted at the plan when he complained of failure in an interview with the Egyptian press.
"A new generation arrives and asks us: 'What have you done?' I am now 79 years old, I cannot escape from passing off the flag [of the PA to someone else]," he said, in an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Blaming "settlements," he added, "the new generation sees the two-state solution is becoming less and less likely, and that there is no escape from the one-state solution."
PA sources told Yediot Aharonot Sunday that, in practical terms, this means that Ramallah is "seriously considering" declaring themselves a "government under occupation" at the Geneva conventions. The PA would dismantle its security forces as part of the move - which, the sources added, has already been announced as a possibility to Israeli officials.
The proposal is apparently gaining steam on the PA side, according to the sources.
"There are people under the leadership of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority who believe that this is the right step," the sources said. "Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub, for example, has already raised this proposal."
The Central Command of the PLO would have to approve the proposal, which will be raised in a special meeting next Saturday - three days before the deadline for negotiations ends. PA sources stressed, however, that there is no telling whether the move will be accepted.
"The proposal may be raised during the meeting, but it is still unclear whether or not it will be approved," sources explained. "The meeting will see several options put on the table, and the PLO will debate them now."
Member of the PLO Executive Committee Hanan Ashrawi said in an interview yesterday that the meeting will, in any case, include important decisions regarding the negotiations with Israel and the US.
Israelis React... with Skepticism
While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has yet to react publicly to the news, at least one MK has dismissed the threat as another PA ploy.
"Threats to dismantle the PA threaten, first and foremost, the rulership of Mahmoud Abbas," MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) stated Sunday. "In one blow he will change from a man of status, power, and prestige to a has-been who will have to pay the price for his actions thus far."
"It will be much easier and cheaper for Israel to be concerned with the humanitarian needs of Israeli Arabs in Judea and Samaria once it can dock the budgetary costs of the PA police forces (who do not deal with terrorism to begin with), releasing terrorists, and Abbas's deposits to his and his family's foreign bank accounts," she added.
Later Sunday, Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett also scoffed at the threat.
"Abbas encourages terror as the head of the PA, and now he threatens us by saying he will resign from his post," Bennett stated. "With threats like this, who needs good blessings?"
"If he wants to leave, we won't stop him," he continued. "The Jewish people will not negotiate with a gun to their heads."
Another Day, Another Empty Threat
The threat is the latest development in the breakdown of peace talks, which fell apart several weeks ago after Abbas reneged on the talks' terms by applying for membership in fifteen different international conventions.
Many fear the PA will apply for legitimacy and statehood by enacting the move, and that Israel will be tried in international courts for settling its own - legal - land in Judea and Samaria.
But, as Bennett himself noted earlier this month, any unilateral moves are likely to hurt none other than the PA itself.
"A lawsuit against us in the Hague will have Israel join the ranks of other distinguished countries brought to court there, such as the US and UK, and no one is telling London to withdraw from their land over it," he stated.
If anything, according to Bennett, "Israel and other countries should bring the PA to the Hague over war crimes."
"There are two reasons for this: first - the PA's killing and terror against innocent people," he continued. "The Palestinians deliberately fired thousands of rockets at schools, hospitals and kindergartens. Shooting to harm civilians is clearly a war crime."
The second accusation Israel should launch against the PA, according to Bennett, is over its ongoing incitement against Israel.
"Every month the PA issues stipends to murders of women and children that Israel released [as part of preconditions to negotiations - ed.], as well as to those who are still in prison" Bennett noted. "They tell murderers: go kill a Jew and instead of receiving compensation now, you'll receive compensation later."