Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly told Israel that if negotiations with the United States about establishing a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines fail, he will transfer responsibility of West Bank lands to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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The report emerged Monday in the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, citing transcripts of a meeting in Doha between Abbas and Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The newspaper published a photograph of the document, which appeared to come from the emir’s office.
According to the published protocol, Abbas conveyed this messages to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting with an unnamed Israeli defense official in his Ramallah offices around two weeks ago.
Abbas reportedly told his counterparts at the Doha meeting that he told the Israeli official: "The peace process failed after 20 years, so our new strategy is that the United States and Israel agree to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital in a limited amount of time, and that both sides immediately begin determining the borders.
“If both sides agree,” Abbas continues, "we will continue the talks about the rest of the core issues. And if not, we will take the following measure: Cessation of the security coordination and transfer of responsibility for PA territory to Netanyahu, who will bear the responsibility for them.”
During the Doha meeting, which was also attended by Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, Abbas reportedly blasted the leader of the Islamist group for breaching the reconciliation agreement. Meshal, for his part, slammed Abbas for not questioning the information received by Israel.
According to Al Akhbar, Abbas was very angry during the meeting in Doha. The main part of the conversation, most of which focused on Hamas’ behavior toward the Palestinian Authority, was what Abbas characterized as Hamas’ attempted coup in the West Bank. “We agreed on a unity government in elections, but it seems that it will not go into effect. You are smuggling money and ammunition into the West Bank, not for a confrontation with Israel but to carry out a coup against me,” Abbas said. “All of this went on until the Israeli intelligence commander came to me [it is not clear whether he is referring to Yoram Cohen or a different intelligence official].”
“A security official came to me two weeks ago [in early August] and told me about the cell that had been arrested, which had been planning a coup against me," Abbas added. "That cell is connected to a person named Jawad who is staying in Jordan. That person reports to Saleh al-Arouri [a high-ranking Hamas operative living in Turkey].”
Throughout the protocol there was an argument between Meshal and Abbas, in addition to Moussa Abu Marzouk and Khalil al-Hayya, high-ranking Hamas operatives who were also at the meeting and quarreled with Abbas for having adopted the Israeli version of events and believing everything Israel told him.
Meshal: “I don’t know anything about reports from the Israeli Shin Bet,” referring to Israel’s security service, “and nobody knows about it. Since the meeting started, you have been irritable and I understand your anger, but you must not build a theory or base a position on an Israeli story that talks about a coup. You come to meet with us, but you don’t trust us.”
Abbas answers: “I believe Israel’s reports.”
Abbas said that the kidnapping of the three teenagers in the West Bank in June was a wrong action whose purpose was to hurt the Palestinian Authority, and that despite Meshal’s energetic denials, Arouri had admitted during a conference in Istanbul that Hamas had perpetrated the kidnapping.
Abbas also complained about the relations Hamas was cultivating with his rival, Mohammed Dahlan, and about how the purpose of this cooperation was to hurt Abbas and the PA.
Abbas also complained about how Hamas had taken a policy that did not agree with the Palestinian national consensus. Hamas, he said, was acting as if it were the only one in charge, particularly in the Gaza Strip, and intended to turn him into a fig leaf.
At this point, Abbas spoke about the behavior of the Palestinian delegation that had conducted the talks with Israel in Cairo, during which Hamas delegates had attacked Fatah delegates, saying that since they were the ones on the battlefield, they would decide what to do.
According to the protocol, Palestinian negotiations chief Saeb Erekat interrupted, urging the high-ranking Hamas operatives to adopt a policy of a unified Palestinian decision. “We are at a crossroads and in the same boat,” Erekat said. “The Americans and the Europeans are asking whether you want a state at the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, according to the UN Security Council resolution. Is Hamas part of this plan, and does it accept this decision? We want to tell the world that Hamas is not the problem. Rather, Hamas is part of the solution.”
The protocol indicates that the meeting concluded with raised voices and mutual accusations. Then the emir of Qatar intervened, asking that the meeting end and that another meeting be held that night. After the meeting, more meetings took place.