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Abbas favors peace conference idea, limits talks to a year

Palestinians may still sever security ties with Israel, says PA foreign minister, admits UN resolution was submitted hastily due to popular pressure

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on December 14, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on December 14, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the French-backed notion of an international peace conference to relaunch negotiations with Israel, but said that talks should not last more than a year.

Speaking to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on Thursday, Abbas said that consultation with world superpowers is ongoing, following the submission of a Palestinian draft resolution on statehood to the UN Security Council on Wednesday, backed by the Arab League. An earlier version was drafted by France.

“We appreciate the intensive deliberations held with Russia and Egypt, and at the same time stress our readiness to consult and exchange ideas to make our bid successful. This would include serious negotiations that would end the occupation before the end of 2017.”

The final draft submitted by Jordan on behalf of the Palestinians Wednesday was somewhat subdued compared to earlier versions reported on in Arab media. The proposal calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967, lines with “mutually agreed, limited, equivalent, land swaps.”

It also accepts a “third party presence” in the West Bank following the “full and phased withdrawal” of Israeli forces “over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe,” which would lapse by the end of 2017.

“We will continue with consultations in the UN to gather support for this project,” Abbas was reported as saying by official Wafa news agency.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on Thursday that the option of cutting security coordination with Israel was still on the table, despite a Palestinian decision Sunday to maintain security ties.

Palestinian authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90/File)
Palestinian authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90/File)

“This is on the leadership’s agenda and it is still discussing the matter. Anyone in the leadership can propose [cutting coordination] at the meeting. We are democratic, and anyone can say what they want.”

Asked why the Palestinian leadership decided to push forward with their UN proposal immediately, even without locking in the nine votes needed for its adoption by the Security Council (or for the prompting of a US veto), Maliki said simply: “because our people pressured us, as did the [Palestinian] factions.”

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