Palestinian Authority could abandon two-state solution

With the West Asia peace process in limbo, the Palestinian Authority has threatened to withdraw from the 1993 Oslo Accords that envision a two-state solution.

Jerusalem: With the West Asia peace process in limbo, the Palestinian Authority has threatened to withdraw from the 1993 Oslo Accords that envision a two-state solution, and instead strive for a bi-national state encompassing most of the historic Palestinian territory.
A document drafted by PA`s chief negotiator and President Mahmoud Abbas` close aide Saeb Erekat states that a one-state solution -- that could seriously undermine the Jewish character of the Israeli state -- was the least preferred option but a possibility because of the continuing stalemate.

The paper `Political Situation in Light of Developments with Administration and Israeli Government and Hamas` Continued Coup d`état’ cites several methods of non-violent resistance, including possibility of putting an end to security cooperation with Israel unless negotiations resume.

This would mean disbanding of the Palestinian security forces trained by the US security coordinator for the region and potentially bolstering Hamas` role in maintaining order in
the West Bank, it says.

Besides, the possibility of announcing nullification of Oslo Accords would result in a chaos that would force Israel to re-assert military control over the entire West Bank.

The third and the most disconcerting possibility for Israel proposed in the document calls for abandoning the pursuit of a two-state solution with the Jewish state and instead pursue a bi-national state that would extend from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea.

Erekat told Ha`aretz that the third option is not his `preferred course of action, but simply the default option` resulting from Israel`s continued refusal to return to the negotiating table on the basis of terms agreed upon between Israel and the PA during the previous US administration.

The 21-page document was sent in recent weeks to several leading policy scholars, majority of whom work in Europe.

In his paper, Erekat outlines the understandings reached during the Bush administration, including PA`s willingness to consider compromising on its insistence on Right of Return.

According to the document`s English translation, Abbas told former Israeli premier Ehud Olmert his government would be willing to accept return of 150,000 Palestinian refugees to Israel within the framework of a final-status agreement.

The Palestinians, Erekat wrote, agreed to the return of 15,000 refugees a year over 10 years. Thereafter, refugees would only be permitted to settle in Israel through an agreement between both sides, the document says.

The document`s original Arabic version does not state how many refugees will be allowed to return to land that is now defined as Israel, the daily reported.

Several Palestinian NGOs in the past have backed the proposal to pursue for a bi-national state where Israel would be forced to give the Palestinians the right to vote under international pressures.

The fast changing demographic profile in the region would then put the Jewish character of Israel under question and those in favour of a two-state solution in Israel have expressed concerns over the development. Some experts say that if the present Arab population in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel was added, it would already be almost equal to the Jewish population in the area and would soon outnumber them given the fast growth rate among Arabs and declining Jewish immigration and low population growth.

The PA chief negotiator describes Hamas as an obstacle to reaching an agreement with Israel.

His document states that the Fatah leadership is pushing for next month`s Arab League summit in Tripoli to demand that Hamas state whether it supports a final-status agreement.

Such a statement, Erekat said, would determine whether Hamas stands within the Arab consensus, or is more in line with Iranian policy, the report said.