PA foreign minister: Abbas awaiting 'credible offer'

David Harris in The Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem Post

By Khaled Abu Toameh and Jordana Horn in New York

September 16, 2011

“Things are still in play,” American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris said. “No one knows exactly what the Palestinians will do at the Security Council, or at the General Assembly, in what sequence and with what texts – plural. It’s all still up in the air.”

Read the full article below.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will submit an application for full membership of a Palestinian state at the UN on September 23, unless he receives a “credible offer” for resuming peace talks with Israel, PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki announced on Thursday.

Malki told reporters in Ramallah that Abbas would present the request to UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon so that the latter could relay it to the presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly.

Malki predicted that more countries would declare their support for the PA’s statehood bid before next week’s session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

He said the statehood bid was aimed at strengthening the chances for the resumption of the peace process.

Malki said that neither the Quartet nor the EU had come up in the past few days with a new and credible proposal that could pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks with Israel.

Muhammad Shtayyeh, a member of the Fatah central committee, accused the US and Israel of trying to “extort” the PA financially because of the statehood bid.

He expressed doubt, however, that the US would carry out its threat to suspend financial aid to the PA.

“It’s not in the interest of the Americans and Israelis to have chaos in the Palestinian territories,” Shtayyeh, who is a senior adviser to Abbas, said. “It’s not in the interest of the international community to have turmoil in the region.”

He too criticized the US and the Quartet for exerting pressure on the PA to force it to abandon the statehood plan.

Shtayyeh said that the goal of those who were putting pressure on the Palestinians was “to dissuade us from going to the UN, and not to launch serious negotiations that would end the occupation.”

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said the decision to go to the UN was “irreversible.”

The PA leadership, he added, was determined to fulfill the aspirations of the Palestinians.

Erekat reiterated the PA’s conditions for renouncing the statehood bid: cessation of settlement construction and Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution.

In New York, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinians’ permanent observer to the UN, told a press conference at the UN on Thursday that the Palestinians had not yet decided whether to pursue unilateral recognition of statehood via the Security Council or the General Assembly next week.

The final decision as to which path to pursue will be taken “within the next few days,” he said.

“All these options are still available to us,” Mansour said. “We are fine tuning our options and will make the final decision soon.”

The Palestinians decision will be announced by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas when the decision is made, Mansour said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “reiterated unconditional support for the just cause of the Palestinian people” in a letter to Mansour, in which Ban wrote that a decision about admitting states to the UN is to be made by member states, and that “he will respect and honor the position of member states,” Mansour said.

“We have been working for several years to reach this moment with the international community,” he told the gathered journalists.

“We are ready to govern ourselves in an independent state – what we need is the end of occupation.”

More than two-thirds of UN member states have recognized the state of Palestine on the lines of 1967, Mansour said. This is “almost double” the number of states that recognize Israel and should allow “Palestine to join its proper place as a member of the community of nations,” he said.

Mansour did not reference the United States by name, instead noting that he was aware that a “powerful country” would employ a veto against a unilateral bid for statehood recognition in the Security Council.

If recognition through the Security Council proves not possible due to US exercise of the veto, “we all know that we have a path through the General Assembly,” he said.

“What is really clear is that we have the right to join the community of nations as a full member, and our quest by coming to the UN is for that objective,” Mansour said. The question only remains of how to approach it, whether by “expressway directly to the Security Council, or the local road, which would take us through the General Assembly, which would eventually take us to the Security Council.

“We don’t have a final decision yet as to which path we will follow first. We need to decide that first,” he said. “After we decide that, we jump immediately into the technicalities of how it could be done and how it could be done in the fastest possible way.

“It is an exciting time,” Mansour said.

UN watchers’ and US Jewish leaders’ reactions ranged from indignation to a more passive curiosity.

“Things are still in play,” American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris said. “No one knows exactly what the Palestinians will do at the Security Council, or at the General Assembly, in what sequence and with what texts – plural. It’s all still up in the air.”

“Going to the Security Council, after Washington promised to veto, is a PA decision to knowingly embarrass the US,” UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer said. “More and more, the Palestinian campaign is proving itself to be an exercise in political theater, designed purely for point-scoring, that will do nothing to improve the lives of Palestinians or Israelis.

“It’s time for President Abbas to return to the negotiating table and choose the path of peace and reconciliation, and not endless lawfare and demonization,” Neuer said.

“Whatever their disclaimers about avoiding violence, the PA is about to recklessly light a match next to a powder keg.”

 

Date: 9/16/2011
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