The gulf between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has widened with the Israeli establishment threatening to permanently annex key parts of the West Bank in retaliation to the proposed Palestinian move to unilaterally seek Security Council recognition for an independent Palestinian State.
On Sunday, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement that the Palestinian Authority is looking for a nod from the U.N. Security Council for an independent Palestinian State. “We are now seeking to lobby a big political base to get a resolution recognising the state of Palestine to be established on the Palestinian territories that Israel has captured during the 1967 Middle East war with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
Mr. Erekat said that the proposal had the support of the Arab Foreign Ministers and was the result of their meeting in Cairo on Thursday.
Palestinian officials, however, say that they would move the Security Council only when assured of support inside the world body. “There is no point in rushing just so that we collide with an American veto,” Nimr Hamad, and adviser to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the Israeli daily Maariv.
Without elaborating, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to take unilateral measures to counter the anticipated Palestinian move. However, his Environment Minister Gilad Erdan seemed to amplify the Prime Minister’s view in considerable detail. “If the Palestinians take such a unilateral line, Israel should also consider ... passing a law to annex some of the settlements,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.
“Everything is open ... it could begin at stopping the transfer of money that the Israeli government currently transfers to the Palestinian Authority,” he said, in reference to the tax collections made by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority under the interim peace deals.
The Palestinian Authority recently declared that it had given up on negotiations with Israel after 18 years of fruitless talks. On November 11, Mr. Erekat said in an interview with the Palestinian news agency, Maan, that all negotiations with Israel since the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991 had produced no results.
The recent hardening of the Palestinian Authority leadership vis-À-vis Israel, however, has failed to soften the radical Palestinian group, Hamas, which has opposed the talks with Israel since their inception.
A commentary on the pro-Hamas website of The Palestine Information Center scolded Mr. Erakat for what it saw was his delayed realisation that talks with Israel were heading nowhere. “We, the people of Palestine, need to know why it took you and your colleagues, people like [Mahmoud] Abbas, Yasser Abed Rabbo [an adviser to Mr. Abbas] and ilk, 18 long years to discover that Israel is not sincere about peace. Were you intoxicated? Were you stupid? Were you gullible? Were you blind?” it said in its trenchant response.