Palestine may declare statehood if talks fail

February 21st, 2008 - 8:13 pm ICT by admin  

Ramallah, Feb 21 (Xinhua) The Palestinians can declare their statehood unilaterally if talks with Israel fail, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday. “We can declare the independence unilaterally if the current negotiations fail to achieve results,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, told Voice of Palestine radio.

“This is a message to Israel and the international community that we have more than one option and choice,” said Rabbo, who is also a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s executive committee.

He also accused Israel of marking time during the talks, saying that the Israelis “want to waste the time and to kill the chance which became available after Annapolis (peace conference)”.

But he underlined that there is no consensus on this proposal “which is put forward for the Palestinian institutions to study”.

It was not the first time for Rabbo to speak of a unilateral declaration of the Palestinian state.

Wednesday, he said, “If the peace negotiations are still not moving ahead towards a permanent status agreement, the Palestinians will seek for declaring an independent Palestinian state unilaterally.”

Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei briefly denied the unilateral declaration, saying, “This option was excluded and has never been discussed among the Palestinian leaders”.

Rabbo, however, expected that Israel would offer a Palestinian statehood with temporary borders and without Jerusalem as a capital by the end of the year.

He also expected that Israel was going to exclude the issue of refugees and West Bank settlements from the peace talks.

The negotiations on final-status issues, which could pave the way for a Palestinian statehood if they were resolved, were renewed at a US-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis last November but they fail to make any notable progress so far.

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