Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will announce a major diplomatic initiative this week, which sources in Ramallah say will entail asking the world powers and United Nations — including the International Criminal Court — to take responsibility for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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Abbas was speaking to Egypt’s Sada El Balad television station after meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi on Saturday. Abbas said he would present his proposal to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who will be visiting the region this week or next. Abbas said he would insist on the initiative, even though the U.S. administration would not like it.
Abbas has not been in a hurry to take this route despite pressure from Palestinian splinter groups. He said he had broad support in the Arab world and that over the next few days he would discuss the issue with other Palestinian leaders.
Abbas’ associates are not giving details on the plan but say the Palestinian leaders will meet Tuesday to hear about Abbas’ meetings over the weekend in Qatar and Egypt.
“We’re working on two levels that do not collide — the political and the internal,” a source close to Abbas told Haaretz.
Domestically, Abbas can suggest a new election or cooperation among the Palestinian groups until the election. This could win the groups’ support by reviving the Palestine Liberation Organization and bringing in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Abbas might also ask the Palestinian leadership to choose a successor.
Last week Yasser Abed Rabbo, a key member of the PLO Executive Committee, said the model for negotiations under the sponsorship of one country was finished. He said the era of Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy had ended.
Abed Rabbo added that the international community had to take responsibility for what was happening in the territories, restrain Israel and end the occupation.
Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, who also chairs the Knesset Lobby for Regional Cooperation, said that according to Palestinian officials, Abbas intends to establish a unified government between the West Bank and Gaza. This government would be headed by Abbas and incorporate the various Palestinian factions.
"Netanyahu should have understood long ago that there is no vacuum," Horowitz said. "When there is no political horizon, violence breaks out. But even after a month and a half of war, the prime minister still isn't presenting any political or strategic goal." According to Horowitz, Israel must lead – together with Abbas – an effort to negotiate [an agreement] in Gaza and accept the regional peace initiative."
Also on Sunday, Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Attie said that talks with all relevant parties are continuing, with the aim of reaching a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Negotiations are now focused on securing an unlimited pause in in fighting, as a first stage of an agreement. Abdel-Attie said he hoped Israel and the Palestinians will heed Egypt's call and return to the negotiating table.