Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared that the PLO does not intend to apply for membership to any more international organizations and agencies Wednesday - at least, not in the near future.
Abbas, who made the comments in an interview with Walla! News, stated that the final decision would ultimately depend on "policy developments" in the "unity" government with Hamas, however - provided that elections are held, as scheduled, sometime before the end of May.
Abbas also revealed during the interview that he allegedly passed a note to the Israeli and US negotiating teams two full days before the PA applied to the agencies in April, threatening to submit the applications in the event that the last batch of 28 Palestinian Arab terrorists were not released.
He alleged that the PLO government waited for 48 hours to see if the Israeli government would change its mind on the releases, and only went through with the move after Israel refused.
Israel cancelled the fourth terrorist release "gesture" in early April, after the PA requested to join 15 international agencies in breach of the conditions of the peace talks. Israel subsequently pulled out of the talks altogether, after the PA signed the unity pact with Hamas.
Fatah to head 'unity' government?
The Chairman also gave new insights into developments with the Fatah-Hamas unity pact, saying that he promised Justice Minister Tzipi Livni during their controversial meeting in London that the government would work within his own - not Hamas's - guidelines. He stressed that he himself may not head the government, but that another Fatah official may, e.g. PA "prime minister" Rami Hamdallah.
He also indicated that the government will be comprised entirely of "independent" Palestinian Arab politicians, and that it would be based on four international principles: recognizing Israel, recognizing the terms of international agreements, and the explicit rejection of violence and terrorism.
The move is a surprising about-face for Abbas, who has insisted that Hamas "doesn't need to recognize Israel" in the framework of a unity government.
Hamas continues to be adamant over its full control of a "unity" government, expressing over and over again that it would remain in control of both Gaza and the PA after elections and insisting that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would rule the government.
More recently, Hamas announced that any 'unity' government would be unequivocally subject to their approval before being established.
The group’s charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and its deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk has ruled out the possibility that Hamas will recognize “the Zionist entity,” even after the unity pact with Fatah.
Hamas representatives have already claimed that the PA's police forces will be integrated into Hamas's police in Gaza, less than a week after co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar angrily denied allowing Hamas to be integrated into the PA side of law enforcement.
Concerns have been raised about the international community's response to a Hamas-control government, as the EU has expressed support for the pact - fully convinced that Abbas, not Haniyeh, will take the lead.
Both Ashton and EU ambassador to the Middle East Lars Faaborg-Andersen have put immense pressure on Israel to re-enter peace talks based on this conviction.