Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will present a statehood blueprint calling for nine months of peace negotiations with Israel, to be followed by an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within three years, Abbas adviser Mahmoud al-Habash told Jordan's Al-Ghad newspaper.
The resumption of talks would be contingent on an Israeli freeze on construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the newspaper said yesterday. Israeli rejection of the proposal would trigger unilateral Palestinian measures, such as moves to press war-crimes charges against Israel, according to the newspaper report. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev had no comment on the Abbas plan today.
Talk of reviving negotiations that broke down in April gained momentum during 50 days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Challenges may remain formidable, with both sides sticking to long-held positions on issues including settlement construction and the borders of a future Palestinian state. Abbas has lost ground politically to the militant Hamas faction that rules Gaza, according to a new poll, and prominent members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government oppose a sweeping Israeli pullback in the West Bank.
Earlier this week, the Defense Ministry announced the expropriation of 1,000 acres of West Bank land to build more settlement homes, a move Palestinians denounced as a land grab.
Abbas will seek Arab League support for his plan at a meeting of foreign ministers in Cairo on Sept. 7, the newspaper said. Negotiations would begin with border talks, then proceed to other issues including the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees, Al-Ghad said.
A new poll shows Hamas' popularity surging in the wake of the Gaza fighting, which halted with an Aug. 26 truce. If elections were held today, 46 percent would vote for Hamas and 31 percent for Abbas's Fatah party, according to the poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. A poll two months ago showed 32 percent support for Hamas and 40 percent backing for Fatah.
The poll surveyed 1,270 Palestinians between Aug. 26 and Aug. 30.