If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas makes good on his declaration that he won't run in the upcoming Palestinian presidential election, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and his entire cabinet would resign, top Palestinian officials predicted yesterday.
If that's the case, Abbas' retirement from politics would signal the destruction of the PA, the institution that is supposed to serve as the temporary administrative organ preceding establishment of an autonomous Palestinian state. Furthermore, the American effort to renew negotiations over a final-status agreement would come to an end, and the United States and European countries would stop donating a total of more than $1 billion a year to pay the salaries of teachers, doctors and PA officials.
However, sources close to Abbas said they expect him to retract his decision to quit politics if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commits publicly to freezing settlement construction during final-status talks. As an alternative to such an Israeli commitment, Abbas is seeking a guarantee from U.S. President Barack Obama that would explicitly mention cessation of Israeli construction in East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian sources strongly rejected statements by Israeli government officials predicting that Abbas would cancel the elections set for January 24, and remain in his post indefinitely; top Palestinian officials in Ramallah don't expect any other Fatah leaders to run for the post. Palestinian law states that when Abbas' term ends in January, he will be replaced by PLC speaker Aziz al-Dweik of Hamas, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Channel 10 news last night.
Senior Palestinian sources also denied reports that the Palestinians are planning to unilaterally declare independence within the 1967 borders, and claim that the Palestinian Legislative Council declaration of independence in Algiers 21 years ago is still in force. At that time, 104 countries recognized Palestine on the basis of UN Resolution 242, which requires Israeli forces to withdraw from territory captured during the Six-Day War.
However, the Fatah leadership will inform the Quartet that in light of the failure of the Oslo process, it is abandoning the two-state solution in favor of a single state, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, which would grant equal rights to all its citizens.
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