Abbas tells Mitchell, I will resign if settlement construction continues 8Oct10 October 9, 2010

Palestinian sources say Abbas’s resignation will mean dismantling the PA and transferring authority in the West Bank back to Israel.

by Akiva Eldar  -  Haaretz -  8 October 2010

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed U.S. envoy George Mitchell last week that the renewal of settlement construction will not only bring about the collapse of peace talks but it will also induce his resignation from the post of Palestinian Authority president.

According to Palestinian sources close to the PA leadership, Abbas told Mitchell of his plans during their last meeting together.

Abbas’s resignation means the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, since it was agreed inside the government that no one from the leadership of Fatah will step up to replace Abbas as president, and no new elections will be held.

In a conversation he held last week in his plane with a reporter, Abbas said “this is the last time that you will fly with me while I am president of the PA.”

Palestinian sources say that with Abbas’s resignation and the collapse of the PA, the Palestinians will demand that the civil authority in the entire West Bank, including zones A and B, be returned to Israel or transferred to the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Haaretz has learned that even though U.S. President Barack Obama is satisfied at this stage with a temporary settlement freeze of 2-3 months, the U.S. government emphasized that it is not ready to relinquish the idea of a total settlement freeze.

Moreover, the Obama administration also made it clear that its principled stance regarding the settlements will not change, and it is not ready to accept the renewal of settlement construction in the West Bank.

Sha’ath says Abbas will resign Ma’an News Agency -  8 October 2010

Palestinian negotiations team member Nabil Sha’ah said Thursday evening that President Mahmoud Abbas will resign from his post, rebuffing days of speculation as the leader arrives in Libya for an emergency Arab League session.

Sha’ath told Ma’an that the president said he would “not backtrack on his national stance and that anyone who thinks he is sticking to his post in exchange for national consensus is wrong.

“Once and for all, [Abbas] is not clinging to the post [of president] nor ready to pay any price in return on the issue,” Sha’ath said.

Abbas is scheduled to speak before the Arab Follow-Up Committee, responsible for the Arab Peace Initiative, on Friday where he has said he will make an “historic” speech.

Palestinians did not accept US initiative

Meanwhile, the Fatah official further denied rumors that Palestinians had accepted a US proposal for a two-month extension to Israel’s settlement freeze in exchange for remaining in talks.

According to the Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post, Sha’ath said Thursday that Palestinians had accepted the proposal provided both sides could agree on borders between the two states within the two-month time frame.

Sha’ath said what he was quoted as saying during a radio interview on the US initiative “does not represent our real stance,” and that Israel should halt settlement activity “to be able to return to the serious talks out of which there will be a just solution that would lead to comprehensive peace.”

“A total halt to settlement activity is key to talks,” he said, adding that following the expiration of Israel’s moratorium on illegal settlement building, the government had shown “a hidden intention to return to building, after which Israel would compromise on a temporary solution for a high price.”

Hamas-Fatah discussion on security delayed

Sha’ath further said a scheduled meeting between leaders from Hamas and Fatah to solve the final disputed point on the Egyptian document relating to security had been postponed until after ratifying the deal.

He said the move was agreed upon with Yemen President Ali Abdallah Saleh during the Fatah official’s recent visit to the country. Saleh contacted Hamas leader in exile Khaled Mash’al but said he had “refused and preferred to discuss this issue in the next meeting on 20 October in Damascus.”

Sha’ath said ongoing efforts to finalize a deal between the two factions would not fail “because everything was agreed on. This issue was last to be discussed and Fatah has all hope in reaching a conciliation agreement.”

Fatah’s parliamentary bloc leader Azzam Al-Ahmad said last week that security experts from both parties would be invited to join the discussion in security-related issues.

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