Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Abbas Ditches Roadmap, No Talks Unless Israeli Withdraws
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Palestinian Authority PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in effect ditched the American Roadmap plan Tuesday and issued an ultimatum to Israel that there will be no talks unless Israel agrees ahead of time to surrender all of the land restored in the Six-Day War in 1967.Abbas’ new position is a severe escalation in his conditions for talks, which previously called for a halt to all building for Jews in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has agreed to a 10-month building freeze except for eastern Jerusalem.
Abbas' announcement in a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Tuesday leaves the American Roadmap plan at a dead end. The plan, launched seven years ago by former U.S. President George W. Bush, calls for the PA and Israel to negotiate for an agreement on a new PA state.
Its longevity has been in question since Hamas ousted Abbas’ Fatah party from Gaza nearly three years ago. Former U.S. Secretary of State also Condoleezza Rice also placed a detour at the Roadmap by pressuring Israel to skip over the clause that calls for interim PA borders, to be followed by talks on final status issues. These points refer to status of Jerusalem and the demand from the Arab world that Israel allow several million foreign Arabs to immigrate into the country.
The Obama administration has not yet commented on Abbas’ latest conditions, and the State Department probably will be asked to make a statement during its daily media briefing Tuesday morning in Washington.
While placing new conditions for the resumption of talks, Abbas blamed Israel for the suspension in diplomatic discussions, arguing that Israel did not comply with the demand to halt building in eastern Jerusalem. Approximately 300,000 Jews live in the area, including the Old City where the Temple Mount and Western Wall (Kotel) are located.
Abbas also reiterated his policy of trying to convince the United Nations Security Council to recognize the 1949-1967 borders as those of a PA state.
"Why are we doing this? Because the negotiations have stopped. Why have they stopped?” he said. “Because Israel cannot stop the settlements or recognize international law.”
The PLO meeting was called to discuss the PA political dilemma of facing elections next month. Hamas has threatened to boycott a vote, and the PLO is likely to extend the term of Abbas, who previously said he would step down. His term of office already has been extended by one year.