Sunday, November 8, 2009

Peace process in pieces - Palestinians consider abandoning peace process

ust days after Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate president of the Palestinian Authority, announced his intention to quit, his colleagues gave warning that they were prepared to deploy the much feared "nuclear option".

Officials in the West Bank told The Daily Telegraph that the most important Palestinian decision making bodies were preparing to meet to discuss a proposal to dissolve the Palestinian Authority itself.

Such a move would signal the end of limited self-government in the Palestinian territories set out by the now defunct Oslo Accords of 1993 and as such end all hopes of a resolution to the conflict with Israel.

Even so, some Palestinian officials signalled they were prepared to discuss the long-feared "nuclear option" in response to what they described as Israeli intransigence and American betrayal.

But at least one Palestinian official suggested that the debate was mainly designed to escalate pressure on the United States after Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, appeared to signal growing support for Israel within the Obama administration.

"We in the movement back dissolving the PA," said Tayseer Nasrallah, a member of the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

"We would use this as pressure on the United States to commit itself to the peace process." Mr Abbas, a moderate voice of conciliation and America's closest Palestinian ally, announced his decision not to stand in elections scheduled for January shortly after Mrs Clinton praised an Israeli offer to limit the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Her comments appeared to represent a shift in policy by the Obama administration, which had earlier demanded a total freeze of all settlement construction – a call that prompted ferocious opposition from Israel.