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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Abbas' latest game: Will he fool he world again?

From Maan:
President Abbas told European diplomats on Tuesday that he will resume peace talks with Israel after a UN vote on the Palestinian request for non-member status in the world body, The Associated Press reported.

Abbas believes that a freeze on illegal settlement building may not be necessary to engage in talks if the UN recognizes a Palestinian state which includes all of the West Bank, AP reported.
Only one problem: Non-state membership status at the UN says nothing about borders. As CFR writes:
How would a UN vote affirming non-member state status affect life inside Palestine?
Very little, in terms of tangible changes resulting directly from the UN decision. Statehood would be a symbolic victory for the PA, but it would lack any formal recognition of sovereignty, borders, and other such considerations normally attendant with state status. Acquiring these things from Israel would require direct negotiations even if the General Assembly endorsed non-member statehood.
So what game is Abbas playing? Is he going to pretend that the UN would confer borders? Is he going to try to sneak border information in the resolution?

This AFP article may shed some light:
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas told EU envoys on Tuesday he accepts European declarations on the peace process as the basis for renewing talks with Israel and plans to incorporate them into his UN statehood campaign.

"The statements of the European Union on our cause serve as the basis for a return to negotiations," a statement from official news agency WAFA quoted Abbas as telling the EU diplomats at a meeting in Ramallah.

"We hope that you will convey to your governments our appreciation for these statements," he added.

"We will use them in the drafting of a Palestinian resolution which will be presented to the General Assembly of the United Nations in order to obtain the status of a non-member state.

"We are open to dialogue with all international parties in the formulation of the Palestinian request," Abbas said, adding it would be submitted to the UN in November.

"When we have obtained the status of non-member state at the General Assembly, we will be ready to return to the negotiating table with the Israeli side to discuss all final status issues outstanding."
It appears that Abbas does intend to put language about the "pre-1967 borders" in the resolution - even though it would have no legal validity - and then he would consider the issue of negotiations over borders to be closed, only willing to negotiate on still "outstanding" issues - not borders.

I don't know the nature of the EU statements that Abbas is referring to, and whether they are new or not.

This is consistent with statements Abbas has said in Arabic .He said to Arab media that after the UN vote, "Palestine" would be a "state under occupation" and
We have no objection [to being a sttae under occupation] because it would be state and not land in dispute, this land is for us, first and foremost, a land occupied no matter how many settlements there are .. Settlement from beginning to end are illegal, and we will not accept them, and they have to leave . This land is for us and Jerusalem is ours.
This seems to be Abbas' game: to bulldoze the non-member state bid into somehow being a legal ruling by the UN on the legality of the 1949 armistice lines as borders of a state, without negotiating those borders with Israel.

And when he says he will negotiate afterwards, he means he'll negotiate whether he will allow Israel to exist at all.

Hopefully the EU will be aware that Abbas is trying to use this latest UN stunt to short-circuit real negotiations with Israel, not to facilitate them.