Frustration Behind Abbas' call for unilateralism (4)

09:53, December 02, 2010      

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Yossi Mekelberg, associate fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Program at the British think-tank Chatham House, told Xinhua that the talks of unilateralism get Israel's attention because it's something beyond Israel's control.

Asked about the timing of the latest remarks by Abbas, Mekelberg said that "it is a threat to speed up negotiations," adding that calls for unilateral action is not something new in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and similar statements have been made since the 1980s.

He said that Abbas' comments should not be confused with the plan that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad presented in 2009, which called for the preparation of a de facto establishment of the Palestinian state by setting up all the necessary institutions for statehood.

There are several complicated issues that need to be addressed with the call for unilateral action, Mekelberg said, noting "such as what kind of support you will get for this state itself and where will its capital be."

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as their capital, but Israel would most likely not cede its control over the city if it was based on a unilateral declaration.

"What does it mean in terms of the refugees?" Mekelberg asked, referring to the Palestinians who fled or left their homes when Israel was established and now live in neighboring countries. " Because it's a unilateral agreement (the question is if) they would be allowed to return. And the answer is no."

Mekelberg also raised the possibility that any unilateral move by the Palestinian might trigger a unilateral response from Israel.

Source: Xinhua

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