Abbas to Netanyahu: Only Replacement to PA Is a Palestinian State

Palestinian president rejects idea of possible collapse of Palestinian leadership body that sparked Israeli cabinet meet, as reported by Haaretz, and called on international community to intervene: 'Our hand is extended in peace.'

AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Wednesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's concerns of a possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority, saying there was no plan in place for a break down of the interim self-governing body, which he said could only be replaced by a Palestinian state.

"The PA will remain and any replacement must be a [Palestinian] state," Abbas said, adding that the PA "was one of the Palestinian people's achievements. They won't give up on it and no one should even dream of its collapse."

The Palestinians leader's comments come just days after Haaretz reported that Israel's diplomatic-security cabinet convened twice at Netanyahu's request in recent weeks to prepare for the possibility of the PA's collapse, a scenario described by Netanyahu as undesirable for Israel.

Abbas, who was speaking in Bethlehem, compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to others in the region and said that it was up to the international community to bring about a peaceful solution. 

"Just as the world made sure to reach a solution with Iran and is acting on the Syrian and Libyan issues - and we have the oldest conflict," he said, calling "for the creation of a broad international committee or international conference to present an agreed-upon framework to solve the conflict."

"The Quartet has already failed and therefore it's up to the world, if they really want to want to conclude the conflict, to begin a process with the P5+1 or any other formula they want," he said.

The Palestinian leader vowed to continue to use the UN Security Council to try to attain international support and condemnation of Israel's settlements – "all the settlement. I tell you every settlement beyond the 1967 borders is illegitimate. The term 'settlement blocs' is unacceptable to us.

"Nonetheless, our hand is extended in peace. We will always be on this land – even if the racism and apartheid is increased," he said.

Haaretz reported that Netanyahu recently told the diplomatic-security cabinet that "[w]e must prevent the Palestinian Authority from collapsing if possible, but at the same time, we must prepare in case it happens," he said, according to two senior officials briefed on the meeting.

One senior Israeli official told Haaretz that concern has been growing of the possibility of the PA's collapse amid recent violence and opinions presented to the government by the defense establishment. The diplomatic-security cabinet has held at least two meetings on the subject over the past two weeks.

Haaretz's report on these meetings spurred MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) to draft a letter Tuesday demanding a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, led by MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), to discuss the subject.

"Security sources, along with diplomatic sources in Israel and abroad, are warning of such a scenario, and recommending the formulation of an official policy to prevent a collapse and measures to prevent it from happening," wrote Livni.