Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Photo by Reuters

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been dropping hints that he will leave his post in September should negotiations with Israel not resume by then, and should there be no agreement about the establishment of a Palestinian state.

During a meeting in Ramallah with members of the Council for Peace and Security (who include former top IDF officers ), Abbas declared that the PA intends to work toward the establishment of a Palestinian state, and to win Israeli recognition for such a state. However, he indicated, if no accord is reached between the two sides, and if serious talks do not resume, the PA will turn to the UN General Assembly in September and request recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

Asked about possible scenarios following such a UN vote, Abbas claimed he is deliberately maintaining ambiguity on this issue. Yet, he said, "should we return [from the United Nations] empty-handed, we will convene a meeting of the Palestinian leadership and decide what to do. We have autonomous rule, but we don't have independence. There is and isn't occupation. The [Israeli occupiers] can come at any moment. They can invade our territories. They can do anything. They can even stop me, as head of the PA, from going home."

"So what are we supposed to do?" he asked. "What should be our answer, if we have lost all hope? I can't respond to that."

Abbas reiterated that the PA will only turn to the UN General Assembly if it runs out of all other options.

"If you [Israelis] do not want negotiations, and don't want an accord, then what are we supposed to do?" he said. "We have imposed order and security here for the past four years, and things are stable now: There is law and order, the economy is progressing, life is normal everywhere in the West Bank. Please, you must take advantage of the opportunity to continue [with talks]. If [the Israelis] don't want [talks], then we will leave. We will leave."

When asked by Haaretz whether he means by these statements that the Palestinian Authority will be disassembled, Abbas responded that he did not say that. He clarified that under the present circumstances, the question "why continue this way" is asked repeatedly.