Israel's Obstinacy Is Holding Back Peace, PA Official Says

Nabil Sha'ath applauds EU plan to declare Palestinian state within 2 years, apart of Israel-PA talks.

Member of Fatah's Central Committee Nabil Sha'ath applauded a reported EU initiative to declare a Palestinian state within two years, saying the plan was a result of Israel's stubbornness and it continuing construction in the West Bank, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported on Sunday.

Haaretz learned on Saturday that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos are promoting an initiative by which the European Union would recognize a Palestinian state in 18 months, before negotiations for a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are concluded.

According to senior European diplomats and senior Israeli officials, Israel has relayed its opposition to the initiative - warning that it would undermine any chance of a successful peace process.

"We welcome these European declarations, especially those of France, which we consider to have adopted a new attitude amidst the current political stalemate," Sha'ath told Ma'an.

Referring to the current stalemate in peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, Sha'ath said that the standstill was "the result of Israel's stubbornness and ongoing settlement constriction, confiscation of Palestinian land, the Judiazation of Jerusalem, and the daily oppressions and detentions against the Palestinian people."

"Peace would be unobtainable if such Israeli measures continue to undermine all previous agreements and treaties," Sha'ath told Ma'an.

The EU initiative is based on a plan by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to establish a Palestinian state in two years, which is the time he estimates is needed for the development of state institutions, economic reforms and a completion of the necessary training of Palestinian security forces that would bring law and order to the West Bank.

The Fayyad plan was developed more than six months ago and the Franco-Spanish initiative is meant to bolster it, promising recognition by the European block.

Israel has responded to Kouchner and Moratinos by expressing clear opposition to the initiative, noting it was contrary to the principles of the peace process. "An imposed solution will not achieve the goals," Israel stressed in its message.

"If the European Union will determine the results of the negotiations in advance and promises the Palestinians recognition of a state, they will have no motivation to resume negotiations," the Israeli message states.

"The issue before us at the moment is the building of a reality," Kouchner told the Journal du Dimanche in an interview published yesterday. "France is training Palestinian police, businesses are being created in the West Bank... It follows that one can envision the proclamation soon of a Palestinian state, and its immediate recognition by the international community, even before negotiating its borders."

"If by mid-2011, the political process has not ended the [Israeli] occupation, I would bet that the developed state of Palestinian infrastructure and institutions will be such that the pressure will force Israel to give up its occupation," he added.

France P<: Convene internatioanl peace process

Also on Sunday, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his Jordanian counterpart Samir Rifai supported the convening of an international conference that could help achieve progress in the stalled Middle East peace process.

"The two sides welcomed any sincere effort that seeks concerted and constructive action to push forward the peace process, including the possibility of convening an international conference at the appropriate time and in full coordination with all concerned parties," a joint statement said.

Fillon, who arrived in Amman Saturday night for a two-day official visit, also held separate talks with King Abdullah II.

Fillon called for the establishment of "a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian state that lives in peace with Israel and on the basis of the 1967 borders and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions as well as the Arab peace initiative".

"Jordan and France share the same viewpoint and we do believe that there is no other way except that of peace," he said.

The Arab peace initiative offers Israel full recognition by all Arab states if it leaves the Arab territories it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, including East Jerusalem.