Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas wants to “climb down from the tree” and restart talks with Israel, but can’t due to widespread pressure, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
According to PA sources several senior PA officials are advising Abbas to forgo plans to seek a unilateral declaration of PA statehood at the UN in September due to opposition to the move from the United States.
However, the sources say the sense is that having announced his intentions to pursue the unilateral UN path, Abbas has “left himself with little room to maneuver and may proceed with the UN gambit simply to avoid a loss of credibility.”
“We are trapped with September,” one official told the AP. “We don’t know what to do after that.”
The PA officials, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, said several top PA advisers were having second thoughts about the unilateralist track at the UN.
Among them are PLO second-in-command Yasser Abed Rabbo, PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat; and former PA representative to the UN Nasser Al-Qidwa.
Qidwa noted the limits of Abbas’s unilateral UN track earlier this week, saying the PA should still rally behind statehood efforts at the UN, “but we should distinguish between getting support and getting recognition.”
“We cannot get recognition simply because the US will veto it,” the AP quoted Qidwa as saying.
Qidwa’s comments suggest a growing realization that the unilateral UN track is problematic and promises an unclear conclusion that may not only change nothing, but may backfire and trigger a new wave of violence PA leaders cannot control.
Abbas attempt to step down from his self-created political precipice may be due to serious discussion in the US congress over cutting funding to the PA, which comes as the PA finds itself amidst another budget crisis. Abbas had previously said he would pursue the unilateral track irrespective of US objections – and even if US funds were cut.
Earlier this week, senior Israeli and PA negotiators traveled to Washington and held separate meetings with US officials to explore the possibility of restarting negotiations.
The meetings come as Hamas considers leaving the business of politics and governance to Fatah saying its involvement therein has “weakened the resistance enterprise.”
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee has introduced a non-binding resolution to cut U.S. funding to the UN if it unilaterally approves a PA state.
U.S. Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives, has introduced a non-binding resolution to cut U.S. funding to the UN if it unilaterally approves a Palestinian Authority state.
The resolution calls on the Secretary of State to withdraw American funding for the UN General Assembly if it adopts a resolution in favor of recognizing a state of Palestine outside of or prior to a final status agreement negotiated between, and acceptable to, the State of Israel and the Palestinians.
Chabots measure has not yet garnered co-sponsors, but Chabot says he expects a significant number of his colleagues to support it when Congress returns to session next week.
Jonathan S. Tobin, editor of Commentary Magazine, wrote this week a strong endorsement of the resolution but added that it should be merely the first shot fired in the struggle to ensure that the UN does not approve the controversial PA state.
Instead of simply worrying about what will happen in the UN General Assembly this September, Tobin writes, and instead of threatening only to veto the resolution, the U.S. must take concrete steps to make sure that the UN body does not approve a unilateral PA state. In addition to threaten to cut funding to the UN, Tobin states, the PA itself must be targeted:
Congress should also be focusing on the fact that by signing a unity pact with the Hamas terrorists, the Palestinian Authority has rendered itself ineligible for the hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that it continues to receive.
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