Abbas seeking alternatives if Mideast talks fail

Abbas told Arab leaders to press the US to recognise Palestinian state within the borders of 1967.

Last Updated: Oct 10, 2010, 09:12 AM IST

Sirte (Libya): Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sought Arab League backing for possible alternatives to troubled peace talks with Israel, including urging the Obama administration to unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state, an Abbas aide said.

The Arab League, meeting in Libya over the weekend, has given the US another month to try to salvage the negotiations, but has also begun to consider fallback options in case the talks collapse.

The US-backed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which began last month at the White House, have hit an impasse over Israel`s refusal to extend a 10-month-old slowdown on settlement construction that expired in late September.

Abbas has said he will not resume talks without such an
extension, and won Arab League backing for his position.
Israel has refused to extend the moratorium, though it is
considering compromises.

Today, Abbas asked Arab leaders to consider alternatives
to the negotiations, said Saeb Erekat, a top aide to the
Palestinian president.

Erekat said Abbas asked Arab leaders today "to press the
American administration to recognise an independent
Palestinian state within the borders of 1967."

If the Americans reject the request, the Palestinians
might take up the issue with the Security Council,
nonetheless, Erekat said.

Palestinian officials have said in the past that if peace
talks fall through, they might ask the UN Security Council to
recognise a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and
east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967
Mideast War.

However, in such a scenario, a US veto at the Security
Council seems likely.

The United States opposes a unilateral Palestinian
declaration of statehood and has pushed back against efforts
at the UN to recognise such a state. The long-standing US
position is that statehood should come through negotiations
with the Israelis.

Abbas told the summit that he did not expect Israel to
budge on the settlement issue, and that in the meantime
opposition to continuing the talks is building among the
Palestinian people, according to two Arab diplomats.

"We have exhausted all our alternatives," the diplomats
quoted Abbas as saying. They spoke on condition of anonymity
in order to speak about information discussed in the closed
session.

Bureau Report