YNet News (Link) - Ali Waked (December 15, 2009)
PLO Central Committee convenes in Ramallah to discuss plan aimed at resolving its political crisis. Palestinian president clarifies he will not seek another term and slams building freeze, which he says ‘is not considered a halt of settlement activity.’
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demanded Tuesday that the international community recognize the 1967 borders as the borders of a new Palestinian state, and stated that this was a condition for the resumption of peace talks with Israel.
“We will renew negotiations if the settlements are completely halted and the 1967 borders recognized as the borders of the Palestinian state,” he said in Ramallah.
Speaking before the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Central Committee, Abbas commended the European Union on a proposal to declare east Jerusalem the future capital of a Palestinian state.
He also condemned settlements. “Netanyahu’s announcement of a 10-month freeze in settlements is not considered a halt of all settlement activity,” he said, referring to a cabinet decision backed by the prime minister.
In addition, Abbas criticized negotiations for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. “Up until now the Palestinian people have paid with the lives of 2,587 people, thousands of injured victims, and 120,000 destroyed homes for the soldier’s captivity,” he said.
The PLO’s central committee was convening in Ramallah in order to make its final decision on a new political alignment in the Palestinian Authority.
The council was expected to appeal to Abbas to continue his term until elections are scheduled. His term ends next month, but he announced that he would not run for office again. He said he would take additional moves, which would be declared later on.
The committee also planned to discuss a proposal regarding the Palestinian parliament, which ends its term after four years. The proposal suggests that the committee, ruled by Fatah, replace the parliament ruled by Hamas.
The move, first revealed by Ynet, is aimed at undermining the results of the 2006 elections, which Hamas won, without dismantling the Palestinian Authority. The plan, to be implemented next month, will see Abbas as head of the PLO.
Under the plan the Hamas parliament will also continue its term, but the central committee will fill in for the parliament when needed.
Hamas has already announced that it would not be obligated to comply with any of the central committee’s decisions. The group’s prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, declared Monday that the current parliament is the legitimate parliament and that the committee’s decisions were unimportant.
The plan is aimed at extracting the PA from the political crisis in which it has been entangled for some time. If it is approved, Hamas will no longer have the power to make decisions regarding Palestinian legislation and the PLO will retain all legal power.
The move will undermine the power of Hamas officials, who claim that the substitute for the president of the PA is chairman of their parliament, Aziz Dweik.