Abbas promises ‘surprise initiative’ to resolve conflict with Israel
PA president says US will not approve of his new plan, jokes that it’s not declaring war on Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he would soon propose an unconventional diplomatic resolution to the Palestinian conflict, one that is likely to make the US unhappy.
The Palestinian leader joked that it was not to declare war on Israel.
Speaking to Egyptian television, Abbas promised a “surprise initiative.” He said the plan would be presented to John Kerry during his upcoming visit to the region, and added that the secretary of state was unlikely to accept it, according to a Haaretz translation.
“I won’t declare war on Israel,” he said with a smile, adding that the plan was for a “political and diplomatic solution.”
Asked whether the Americans would like the mysterious idea, he said no, laughing.
However, Abbas maintained, his plan does enjoy broad Arab support and would be presented to the PA leadership in the coming days.
Palestinian sources close to Abbas told Haaretz that the plan would involve handing over responsibility for a resolution to the conflict to international forces.
The sources also hinted at internal Palestinian reform. “We’re working on two levels that do not collide — the political and the internal,” a Palestinian source told Haaretz.
On Friday, Qatari media said Abbas and Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mashaal, who held talks in Doha at the end of last week, had urged the United Nations to draw up a “timetable” for the end of the “Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.”
It was not clear whether that was the “surprise initiative” to which Abbas was referring Sunday.
The PA has spent recent weeks trying to help mediate an end to the Israel-Hamas conflict, and has publicly criticized Hamas for rejecting Egyptian calls for an immediate ceasefire. He also reportedly slammed Mashaal during their talks for plotting against the PA. Last week, the Shin Bet said it had foiled a major Hamas plot to carry out attacks on Israeli and PA targets, foster a third intifada and topple Abbas.
Abbas’s announcement Sunday came a month after the PA president decided to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a first step to joining the ICC. The move, should it be implemented, is likely to significantly strain ties between the PA and Israel.
On Saturday, Hamas signed a pledge to back the Palestinian ICC bid, in a move that would put itself under international scrutiny for war crimes as well.
Sources in Ramallah told Army Radio on July 31 that the Palestinian Authority was waiting for a legal opinion, after which it would join the 139 countries that are signatories to the statute.
The move would allow the Palestinian Authority to file a suit against Israel for “war crimes” during Operation Protective Edge, as it has repeatedly threatened to do, but it would also be exposing itself to similar allegations.
Earlier in August, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that his government intends to apply for membership of the International Criminal Court this year in hopes of holding Israel responsible for alleged violations of war-crimes law.
But the ICC said in a statement that it currently doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories. The court couldn’t immediately be reached, to clarify whether it would accept an application by the Palestinians for jurisdiction.