PALESTINE - Jan 14 - Abbas Rules Out Plan For Interim State.
The PA president pre-empts emerging pressure to accept an interim
Palestinian state with temporary borders. Mahmoud Abbas told Condoleezza
Rice, US secretary of state, a comprehensive peace treaty was the only
realistic solution to the conflict with Israel. Ms Rice was in Ramallah
in the West Bank as part of a Middle East tour to drum up regional
support for US Pres Bush's new Iraq policy. A breakthrough in the
stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process might encourage
Washington's Arab allies in the region to help in a resolution of
the Iraq crisis. Before Jan 14 meetings, reports suggested the State
Department was pushing the plan for a transitional state and that Ms
Rice would raise these ideas. However, she denied on her way to the
region she was bringing a new peace plan, possibly in view of
Abbas's previously stated opposition. The temporary borders idea
was earlier proposed by Tzipi Livni, Israeli foreign minister, whom Ms
Rice met in Jerusalem on Jan 14 evening. The Palestinians are wary of an
interim deal that might leave them with a truncated state and with the
difficult issues of refugees and the status of Jerusalem unresolved.
Abbas said at a joint press conference with Ms Rice: We reaffirmed to
Secretary Rice our rejection of any temporary or transitional solutions,
including a state with temporary borders, because we don't see it
as a realistic option". It is a view he shares with the PA's
Hamas government, presently engaged in an internal power struggle with
Abbas's Fatah movement. Without naming Hamas, the PA president told
Ms Rice on Jan 14 he still hoped to establish a national unity
government with other factions before he would resort to new elections.
However, he described as premature reports he would meet Khaled Mashaal,
the exiled Hamas leader, in Damascus next weekend. The PA's Hamas
PM Ismail Haniyeh, on Jan 13 called on all factions to pursue talks,
claiming US policy was aimed at preventing the emergency of a national
unity government. A similar unity call was issued last week by Marwan
Barghouti, Fatah's influential former West Bank militia leader, who
is serving a life sentence in an Israeli jail.