Saeb Erikat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, recently warned that Mahmoud Abbas, the president, might "embark on dismantling" the Palestinian Authority (PA) if Israel continued to carry out "acts of piracy" inside areas officially run but only nominally controlled by the PA.
He admitted that the recent Israeli army foray into Jericho and seizing of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Ahmed Sadat and 32 other Palestinians, was a great embarrassment to the PA leadership, prompting some Fatah leaders to demand the dismantling and termination of the authority.
Erikat said it was "not unthinkable", saying that "the PA will not be a thin fig leaf hiding the reality of the Israeli occupation".
Aljazeera.net spoke to Erikat recently.
Aljazeera.net: Some say the talk about possible dismantling of the PA was merely a bluff aimed at alerting the quartet (UN, US, Russia, EU) to press Israel?
Saeb Erikat: No, it was not a bluff. In fact, what Israel is doing, unilaterally and single-mindedly, is seriously undermining the very survivability, let alone the viability, of the PA. And we will not accept to be a quisling entity in the service of the Israeli occupation.
They always say the PA is a "non-partner." What they mean by that is that a "true Palestinian partner" would have to accommodate Israeli expansionistic demands and capitulate to the Israeli will.
Is there widespread support among Fatah leaders for the idea of dissolving the PA?
At the moment, the idea is still in the burgeoning stage. But, yes, things will change if Israel continues to carry out acts of piracy, murder and terrorism against our people.
What is Israel demanding of you?
As I said, Israel is seeking a "non-partner", not a partner. Indeed, this is clear from what Israel has been doing, including the expansion of Jewish settlements, the continued construction of the apartheid wall as well as the daily incursions and acts of assassination.
"It has never been our intention to give Israel free recognition. The entire peace process was based on the land-for-peace formula"
Has the PA asked Hamas to recognise Israel?
We are not asking Hamas to recognise Israel. We are only demanding that the Hamas-dominated government recognise international agreements we had signed.
But some of these agreements imply recognition of Israel?
It has never been our intention to give Israel free recognition. The entire peace process was based on the land-for-peace formula.
But Israel views the Palestinian territories as "disputed" not "occupied". Is this your interpretation as well?
No, no, the Israelis are saying a lot of things. But the essence of all peace efforts remains UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.
What do you wish for the upcoming Hamas government?
This is not a Hamas government; this is the Palestinian government since it represents all the Palestinian people. But, yes, I hope it will succeed.
Do you think it will?
It depends on them (Hamas). If they accept the Arab initiative and previous government commitments and obligations, there is a fair chance they will succeed.
And if they don’t?
They will have to answer to the people.
What is your advice to Ismail Haniya, the new Palestinian prime minister?
My advice to him is to adopt the political programme of President Mahmoud Abbas. I think this would create political harmony at home and earn us international support.
"The creation of a Palestinian state is inevitable. Without it, there will be no stability and security in the region"
Do you think the creation of a truly viable Palestinian state in the West Bank is still possible?
The creation of a Palestinian state is inevitable. Without it, there will be no stability and security in the region.
And the settlements?
They are illegal and they will have to go. You know … what happened to the Gaza settlements.
Do you think the Israeli elections will produce a positive outcome vis-a-vis the stalled peace process?
I don’t wish to comment on the Israeli elections. This is an internal Israeli affair.
It seems that the next Israeli government, which is likely to be led by the Kadima party, will seek to unilaterally impose de factor borders, which would mean the annexation of large parts of the West Bank. How would the Palestinians deal with this?
Unilateralism means the continuation of the occupation. We will never come to terms with the effects of any unilateral Israel fact and we will continue the struggle until all the effects of the Israeli occupation which started in 1967 are obliterated.
*this interview reprinted from aljazeera.net