Diplomacy

State Dept: PA Threats to Annul Oslo Would Have “Grave Implications” for Ties with U.S.

Top U.S. and Israeli officials on Monday reacted coldly to threats by Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders that they might disband the Palestinian government and transfer control of their territory to either Israel or the United Nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the threats earlier this week:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu criticized the Palestinian Authority on Monday, saying that its threat to dissolve and the ruling Fatah faction’s efforts to forge unity with Hamas indicate a lack of desire for peace.

“Today, we saw the Palestinian Authority speak of dismantling itself and also talking about unity with Hamas,” the premier told revelers at a Mimouna celebration in Or Akiva. “They should decide – either dissolve, or enter into a union with Hamas. When they want peace, they should let us know. Because we want a genuine peace.”

Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanna Amerah reportedly told Palestinian media over the weekend that the failure of the peace process “could lead to the disbandment” of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), the Palestinian body that controls Palestinian areas of the West Bank, which would impose new costs on either Jerusalem or the international community as they filled in.

Agence France-Presse separately quoted an anonymous Palestinian official saying that similar threats had been conveyed to Martin Indyk, the Obama administration’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas himself had apparently told Israeli lawmakers last week that a prolonged stalemate in the peace process would lead to the Palestinians handing over the “keys” to the West Bank.

Speaking from the State Department podium on Monday, spokeswoman Jen Psaki warned Abbas against making any such moves:

“A great effort has been made in the last few years to build Palestinian institutions, including with U.S. financial aid,” she said. “Dissolving the Palestinian Authority is not in the interest of the Palestinians … and will have implications on our relationship and our assistance.”

Palestinian officials emerged from their meetings with Indyk declaring that the U.S. was not presenting any new proposals to move forward a U.S.-backed peace initiative launched roughly nine months ago by Secretary of State John Kerry. Abbas has repeatedly rejected a range of U.S. bridging proposals designed to bring the two sides closer to an agreement.

[Photo: CNN / YouTube]