The Palestinian negotiating team is categorically rejecting any compromise with Israel over the latter’s plan to re-start settlement building on Palestinian land Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also reviving his threat to resign.
The Palestinians demanded the freeze on new settlement-building in summer of 2009 as a prerequisite to face to face talks. When Israel finally made that concession, it exempted edifices on which work had already begun, ensuring that the ‘moratorium’ was a small gesture indeed.
Having now gotten the Palestinians to a negotiation table, such that it would be difficult politically for them just to storm out of such talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu wishes to start back up the active colonization of Palestinian territory (a matter the negotiations are supposed to resolve.) From a Palestinian point of view, Abbas would be giving a fig leaf to people who are stealing from him, by legitimizing the Netanyahu government through talks. Meanwhile, Palestine would be disappearing.
Abbas is pushing back, saying Israel must choose between taking Palestinian lands and peace. Reuters has video:
The Guardian reports that some of the “freeze” in new settlement building has been a “fiction,” since structures begun the summer of 2009 before the freeze went into effect were exempted from it. Since Israelis had fair warning of a freeze, they simply bought up land and began construction on it before the deadline. And, some are entirely willing to build illegally.
A new poll shows that a majority of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank think peace talks are the best means to attain their goals. Another 16 percent advocated non-violent noncooperation. Only about a quarter of Palestinians advocate violent resistance.
The USG Open Source Center translates an article from al-Quds al-‘Arabi on President Mahmoud Abbas
‘Palestinian Source on President Abbas’s Threat to Resign If Negotiations Failed
Report bu Ashraf al-Hur, from Gaza: “Palestinian Source: President Abbas Hinted Anew that He Would Submit His Resignation If the Negotiations Failed and the Official Institutions Had Not Discussed the Alternative”
Al-Quds al-Arabi Online
Friday, September 24, 2010
Document Type: OSC Translated Text …
A senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official has told Al-Quds al-Arabi that President Mahmud Abbas has hinted anew to the possibility of submitting his resignation if the negotiations were to fail. However, the source says that despite this, the PLO and Fatah institutions have not begun to search for an alternative. The source reveals that the plan for conducting the negotiations in the upcoming stage does not depend on the existence of a negotiations delegation, but it depends on holding bilateral meetings between Abu-Mazin and Binyamin Netanyahu.
The senior source, who asked not to be named, points out that President Abbas said at the last meetings of the (Fatah) Central Committee, which discussed the negotiations dossier and their failure if they were launched, “I have a decision which I will announce at the right time.”
The official stresses that it was understood by all members that the president had reiterated the intention to resign his post.
President Abbas had said that he would resign his post, and he would not be a candidate for the presidency again in any future elections; this was because of his dissatisfaction with the peace process.
With regard to the alternatives to be adopted by the PLO and the PA in case President Abbas carries out his threat and submits his resignation as president of the PA, the Palestinian official says that the Central Committee will then convene and select a new president from its members, after that the (PLO) Executive Committee will convene to ratify the selection, and then this will be followed by a meeting of the Central Council to ratify the appointment in its final form.’
If the peace talks collapse and Abbas resigns, there is no vice president to take his place and he is already serving beyond the perimeters of the Palestinian Authority Constitution. Such a set of failures would tarnish the Obama administration and could provoke months of demonstrations by disappointed and suffering Palestinians.