Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas told Arab leaders over the weekend that Israel has in effect scrapped the landmark 1993 Oslo autonomy accords, an aide said on Monday. "Abbas affirmed to the Arabs that Israel has effectively cancelled the Oslo agreement and the other agreements it has signed with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)," chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.
He went on to accuse Israel of having stripped the Palestinian Authority of much of its limited powers in the occupied territories and of "intruding on a daily basis" into areas governed by the Palestinians, Erakat said.
"If Israel does not respect agreements or adhere to implementing them then how can the PLO and the Palestinian Authority adhere to them?" he asked. The 1993 Oslo accords formally launched the peace process based on autonomy and led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority, which was to govern parts of the occupied West Bank and Gaza until a final agreement.
But after nearly two decades of sputtering talks Israel and the Palestinians remain bitterly divided on core issues and Abbas has refused to negotiate without a complete freeze of Jewish settlement building on Palestinian lands. Erakat said that Abbas, at the Arab summit in the Libyan city of Sirte, also spelled out several alternatives to direct negotiations should Israel continue to build in the occupied territories.
One option would have the Palestinians demand US recognition of a state in the Palestinian territories occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and annexed Arab east Jerusalem. Abbas said other options include demanding full membership from the UN General Assembly and the Security Council or requesting an international mandate to govern the Palestinian territories, Erakat said.
"Abbas did not say he would resign or dissolve the Palestinian Authority," Erakat said, referring to far more drastic steps to which the Palestinians have alluded in the past. "But he said that since Israel has cancelled the Oslo accords and the other agreements and stripped the power of the Palestinian Authority over Palestinian lands, why should it remain in place?" The latest round of peace talks was relaunched on September 2 in Washington but ground to a halt when a 10-month partial moratorium on Israeli settlements expired on September 26.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to extend the restrictions, a move opposed by much of his right-wing-led coalition, but he has encouraged the Palestinians to stick to the talks.