The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a delegation of Israeli leftists on Sunday that he would ask the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood if Israel does not respond to his demands for the resumption of negotiations.
According to the Telegraph’s Adrian Blomfield, those demands include a total freeze of Jewish settlement construction in Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem, and the release of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisoners.
In addition, Abbas wants an Israeli confirmation that a future Palestinian state should be founded on territory Israel occupied in the Six Day War of 1967, with mutually agreed land swaps to allow Israel to annex some of the larger settlements it has built on occupied land.
The idea of a land swap may represent a softening of the Palestinians’ opening bid in the coming peace negotiations with the Netanyahu government. Ma’an notes that after their “inconclusive” attempt to receive recognition of statehood by the United Nations Security Council in September 2011, PA officials in recent months have revised their opposition to a “lesser upgrade” to be presented before the general assembly.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has refused on principle Palestinian and international calls to halt settlement construction, for which he has been accused of breaking pledges made by Israeli governments in earlier peace talks.
Israel says it is prepared to resume peace talks only if the Palestinians drop their preconditions.
On Sunday, Abbas asked the visiting Israeli delegation – which included former Israeli ministers Yossi Beilin and Amnon Shahak, and Meretz party Chairperson Zahava Gal – to tell the Israeli public that the Palestinians desire for peace and are discouraged by the deadlock in talks.
Israeli and Palestinian delegates met for five rounds of exploratory talks in Jordan last January, after the Quartet of international negotiators, comprised of the US, UN, Russia, and the EU, called for new proposals by the end of the month.
The talks failed to lead to new negotiations. Palestinian envoys said they gave their briefs in early January, but Israel had not presented a serious counter proposal during the talks.
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