November 11, 2009 in News
By Avi Issacharoff
November 10, 2009
If Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas goes through with his threat to resign, the Palestinian Authority will effectively cease to exist, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Agence France-Presse yesterday.
While Erekat did not specify exactly what he meant, his statement was widely interpeted as an explicit threat to dismantle the PA.
Erekat added that Abbas was determined to quit if American efforts to revive the peace process failed.
His threat came as world leaders stepped up pressure on Abbas to rescind his decision. Inter alia, the PA leader received phone calls yesterday from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, King Abdullah of Jordan and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, all of whom urged him to reconsider.
Robert Serry, the UN’s envoy to the Middle East, did the same during a meeting with Abbas in Ramallah yesterday. Afterward, Serry issued a statement calling Abbas’ threat a “wake-up call.” The statement added that Israel must “freeze all settlement activity,” lest “we risk sliding backwards” rather than moving forward toward a two-state solution.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner announced that he, too, planned to meet with Abbas in the near future to urge him to change his mind. In an interview with France Inter radio Kouchner also lashed out at Israel, charging that it was no longer interested in peace.
“What really hurts me, and this shocks us, is that before there used to be a great peace movement in Israel,” he said. “There was a left that made itself heard and a real desire for peace. It seems to me, and I hope that I am completely wrong, that this desire has completely vanished, as though people no longer believe in it.”
Monday night, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia also spoke with Abbas. According to a statement issued by the PA, the conversation dealt mainly with the tension along the Saudi-Yemeni border. But Palestinian sources said that Abbas’ possible resignation also came up.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa also urged Abbas not to quit.
Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported yesterday that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had accused Abbas of torpedoing a deal with Hamas for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Lieberman, who is currently in Denmark, reportedly said the PA leader had objected vehemently to Israel freeing Hamas prisoners in exchange for Shalit, fearing that this would lead to increased violence against members of Abbas’ own Fatah party in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Related Material From the Archive:
- Israeli, Palestinian Leaders Likely to Meet Soon, Both Sides Say
- Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman Says Will Resign If Indicted
- Israel authorises 455 new settlement units
- ‘Israel won’t yield to U.S. demands, won’t halt settlement construction’
- Iranian Cleric Calls for ‘Ruthless’ Punishment of Protest Leaders
- Allies push Israel for Gaza probe
- US takes on Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran’s nuclear programme in one massive gamble
- G-8 pledges $20 billion to fight world hunger after appeal from Obama