Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to dismantle the PA should US Secretary of State John Kerry fail to “salvage the peace process,” a senior PA official said Tuesday.
Hussein al-Sheikh, the PA minister for civilian affairs, said that Abbas has informed Kerry that the PA’s functional role would end if current efforts to revive the peace process did not succeed.
“Israel, as an occupying force, would then have to assume full responsibility [over the Palestinian population],” Sheikh told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station.
He added that Abbas also informed Kerry that he agreed to extend the deadline for the secretary of state’s mission until June 20, on condition that Israel releases Palestinian prisoners arrested before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. Sheikh said the PA rejects the idea of a gradual release of the prisoners, insisting that they all be freed together.
Kerry is expected to return to the region next week to resume his efforts to revive stalled peace talks.
Abbas declared Tuesday that he was ready to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible in order to reach a peace agreement with Israel “on the basis of a two-state solution on the 1967 borders.” He spoke during a meeting in Ramallah with the president of Maldives, Mohammed Waheed Hassan.
Hassan arrived for an official visit to “Palestine” and is not expected to meet with any Israeli officials.
“I have affirmed more than once that the Arab and Islamic countries would be happy and recognize Israel if it withdrew from the occupied territories and a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established,” Abbas said.
He added that Kerry was making strenuous efforts and was serious about reaching a solution.
“The ball is now in the Israeli court,” Abbas said. “The Palestinian demand is clear and the Americans and Israelis are well aware of it. The Israelis just have to accept this demand in order for the negotiations to resume.”
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Abbas-threatens-to-dismantle-PA-if-peace-talks-dont-start-315467