|US-brokered peace talks have been deadlocked since restarting in September, due to the settlement issue [Reuters]|
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has said that if no peace deal can be agreed with Israel and the international community does not approve a Palestinian state, he may dissolve his governing body.
Abbas said in a television interview on Friday that if Israel continued to build settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, leading to the beakdown of peace talks, the Palestinian Authority (PA), that provides limited autonomy for the territory, would be disbanded.
“I cannot accept to remain the president of an authority that doesn’t exist,” he said.
Pressed on whether he was referring to the possibility of dissolving the PA, he said: “I am telling them so. I say to them welcome … you are occupiers.
“You are here, stay here, I cannot accept the situation will remain as is.”
US-brokered peace talks have been deadlocked since September due to Palestinian demands that the building of Israeli settlements on land, deemed by international law to be occupied Palestinian land, be halted.
The US has called for Israel to suspend settlement building for three month so the negotiations can be resumed.
In the interview on Friday, Abbas reiterated his appeal for settlement building to be halted and said that if this did not happen he would seek US and UN recognition for a Palestinian state. That would effectively bypass peace talks.
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, gave a bleak assessment of the latest diplomatic moves to end the stalemate, saying that Israel was to blame for the failure of the peace talks.
“Israel has chosen settlements and not peace,” he told the Reuters news agency on Thursday.
The PA was created after the signing of the Olso peace accords between the Palestinians and Israel in 1993.
It provides limited self-rule over the Palestinian territory Israel had won in a 1967 war – territory that the Palestinians want to have as part of their own state.
However, Israeli construction of settlements within the borders of occupied West Bank land puts the idea of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state in jeopardy, according to the Palestinians.
Israeli supporters of the settlement construction assert that Palestinian and Israeli borders must be negotiated according to considerations of security.
They have said that the Palestinian demand to halt settlement building is an attempt to put preconditions on the peace talks.