Statements made on Sunday by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in an interview with Christiane Amanpour on American network ABC could open a window into the expected tactics of the Palestinians in the coming months. Following the U.S. announcement that efforts to resume direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority had come to an end, the Palestinians are planning to make Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sweat.
Fayyad, with opposition head Tzipi Livni standing nearby, made it clear that the PA does not intend to declare the establishment of a Palestinian state - "we have already done this in 1988" - but the PA is now seeking to achieve statehood.
It appears that the Palestinians have realized that the American announcement is playing into their hands. Senior PA figures will no longer have to deal with the endless American efforts to resume the direct talks, which meant many months of endless negotiations with little hope of a positive outcome.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech before the Saban Forum on Friday in Washington may have not satisfied the Palestinians, who had hoped that the U.S. administration would lay the blame squarely on Israel for the failure. But they know a unilateral declaration of independence, and turning to the United Nations unilaterally for recognition, will result in a direct confrontation with the administration.
Right now it appears that the Palestinians have the White House sympathy market cornered and returning to the indirect talks will help them get even more.
The U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, is due to arrive in the area for a meeting with Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians were prepared for the American demand that both leaders present a clear framework for a solution to the conflict. Fayyad and other senior Palestinian officials have already reiterated that Abbas has offered such a framework to the Americans.
Netanyahu is the one evading any concrete offer. As far as the PA is concerned, Netanyahu cannot continue to evade the Americans, avoiding a clear Israeli roadmap which addresses all the most problematic issues - borders, settlements, refugees and even Jerusalem. Netanyahu will not be allowed to put forth slogans like "Jerusalem - Israel's eternal unified capital," or "the Jordan Valley in Israeli hands." He will have to offer a solution.
If Netanyahu does not show willingness for a historic compromise, then he is expected to receive Obama's framework for a solution, which the sides will have to accept or refuse.
In 2000 it was Yasser Arafat who evaded Bill Clinton's plan for an agreement, and paid for it dearly; now it is Netanyahu who is at risk of becoming an unwelcome guest at the White House.
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