Abbas addresses freed Palestinians
Abbas addresses released Palestinian prisoners at Ramallah headquarters, August 14, 2013. Photo by AFP
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The Palestinian leadership met on Monday night to discuss scenarios in the event of a breakdown of talks with Israel, Haaretz has learned.

A senior Palestinian official said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is intent on keeping to the timeframe allocated for the talks, but in the event that a deal is not reached, which could include an agreement to extend the deadline, the Palestinian leadership will have no option but to turn to unilateral actions at the United Nations.

In a speech in Ramallah on Saturday, Abbas said the negotiations are limited to nine months, after which the Palestinians are free of any obligations, hinting at the Palestinian promise not to pursue further international recognition in the Palestinian state while talks are in motion.  

He added that “if Israel insists on continuing with [settlement] construction and disregarding understandings, the Palestinians will be free to disregard those obligations.”

Abbas also said that Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state: “Al-Quds [the Arabic name for Jerusalem] and everything that was conquered in the 1967 war is part of the Palestinian state.” His words came following declarations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, revealed in Haaretz on Friday, that he would not agree to any reference to Jerusalem in the framework document being drawn up by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said on Tuesday that Kerry stressed to supervisory committee of the Arab League that he is pressing on with the "framework agreement."

However, Kerry – who met the committee members in Paris - said that if his initiative fails he would not hesitate to point out those responsible for the breakdown of talks, and single out those who were cooperative and those who were not.

Malki, who gave an interview to the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, said that the Arab foreign ministers told Kerry they could not support a proposal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or leave Jerusalem out of any future framework agreement.

Senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz that the position of the Arab foreign ministers was coordinated with the Palestinians before the meeting with Kerry. They added that Saudi Arabia and Jordan have also told Kerry they would not publicly cross Abbas, even though there was concern they would be swayed under American pressure.