JERUSALEM – If Israel and the Palestinian Authority fail to reach an agreement within the next year, the Obama administration could support a United Nations resolution that would unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, senior PA officials told WND.
The officials were speaking ahead of a major summit that starts today in Washington to launch direct talks between Israel and the PA. The foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan will also take part in the summit.
Sources in both the PA and Israel told WND the Obama administration did not impose any preconditions for the summit, a move that is somewhat out of character for the U.S. president. It was Obama who urged Israel to halt all Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem as a precondition for indirect negotiations last November.
Under intense pressure, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze Jewish West Bank construction for 10 months, a moratorium set to expire at the end of September.
PA officials told WND they received an American pledge against any new Jewish construction into the foreseeable future in the West Bank or eastern sections of Jerusalem, excluding what are known as the three main settlement blocs – Gush Etzion, Maale Adumin and Ariel.
The PA officials said the U.S. has been negotiating the borders of a future Palestinian state that would see Israel eventually withdraw from most of the West Bank and some areas of eastern Jerusalem with the exception of the three blocs.
While the PA does not believe it will see an actual Palestinian state within a year, it expects in that time it will take over many more neighborhoods in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem that are normally controlled on the ground by Israel. The PA said the expectation is based on pledges by the Obama administration.
Still, both Israeli leaders and PA officials told WND that following today's summit they do not expect any major momentum toward a future Palestinian state until after November's midterm elections. Officials on both sides believe Obama sees a heavy-handed approach toward Israeli-Palestinian talks as a potential liability in the run-up to the elections.
Netanyahu is headed to today's summit with the knowledge that if talks are not ultimately fruitful, Obama could back the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state outside the framework of coordination with Israel.
The threat to create a Palestinian state using a U.N. vote is not new. Last year, Ahmed Qurei, former PA prime minister and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee, told WND in an interview that the PA "reached an understanding with important elements within the administration" to possibly bring to the U.N. Security Council a resolution to unilaterally create a Palestinian state. Asked to which "elements" he was referring, Qurei would only say they were from the Obama administration.
Despite widespread assumptions the U.S. would veto any such U.N. Security Council resolution, PA officials told WND the Obama administration did not threaten to veto their conceptual unilateral resolution. "The U.S. has a history of never before vetoing any U.N. move to create a new state," a PA negotiator pointed out.
Today's summit will begin with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosting one-to-one discussions with Netanyahu, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt, and Tony Blair, envoy of the 'Quartet' of Middle East peace negotiators – the United Nations, the U.S., the European Union and Russia. Later, speeches will be delivered by the Middle East leaders as well as by Obama.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Jews killed where Obama demanded removal of checkpoints
Anti-terror barriers credited with stopping scores of attacks
Posted: August 31, 2010
5:20 pm Eastern
Officially, Hamas took responsibility for the terror attack, in which gunmen opened fire at point-blank range on a car carrying the four Israeli civilians. By Aaron Klein
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he delivers his speech during his party's meeting for the upcoming Jewish New Year in Tel Aviv August 30, 2010. Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are expected to meet U.S. President Barack Obama ahead of the launch of Mideast talks on September 2nd. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS)
JERUSALEM – Today's deadly terror attack that killed four people took place on a road where the Israeli government removed staffed anti-terror checkpoints in line with requests from the Obama administration, WND has learned.
As President Obama was preparing for a Washington summit with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Palestinian terrorists today carried out a shooting attack, killing two Jewish men and two women, one of whom was pregnant.
The attack took place in the West Bank just south of the entrance to Kiryat Arba, near the historic biblical city of Hebron.
Israeli security officials say the terrorist shooting was a coordinated ambush.
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, confirmed to WND his group was behind the attack. Abu-Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, stated today's shooting was "a link in a chain-series of attacks - some have been executed, and others will follow."
The attack took place in the same general area where a gunman opened fire on an Israeli police vehicle just outside Hebron in June. A police officer was killed and two others were wounded in that shooting attack. Israeli security officials say the shooting was a planned ambush similar to today's attack.
Both incidents took place on Route 60, a West Bank road used by Israeli and Palestinian drivers and patrolled by Israel.
In the last year, the Israeli government removed 19 staffed checkpoints in the West Bank. At least 15 of the removed barriers are in the vicinity of Hebron.
A spokeperson for the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to WND that in the last year and a half, all roadblocks have been removed from Route 60. The checkpoints were dismantled in line with demands from the Palestinian Authority that were passed on to Israel by the Obama administration.
George Mitchell, the White House envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, specifically requested that Israel remove roadblocks and checkpoints as a confidence-building gesture to restart talks with the PA, Israeli officials told WND.
Anti-terror roadblocks and checkpoints impede Palestinian movement, but have been credited with stopping scores of attacks.
Michael Ben-Ari, a Knesset member from Israel's National Union party, slammed the dismantlement of the checkpoints. "The writing was on the wall. Opening roadblocks encourages terror and gives a free hand to terrorists," he said.
Preliminary police reports here show the gunmen today approached the Israeli vehicle and shot the victims multiple times at point-blank range.
The Magen David Adom ambulance authority reported the victims were two men ages 25 and 40 and two women, also ages 25 and 40, one of whom was pregnant. The victims were all residents of Beit Hagai, a Jewish community in the southern Hebron Hills.
Paramedic Guy Ronen described the shooting scene to the Jerusalem Post: "When we arrived on the scene, all four doors of the car were open and four bodies were strewn on the road. We saw that the vital organs had been struck by a very large number of bullets, and that there was no chance of saving their lives."
"It was a very difficult scene. We had learned to forget scenes like this in recent years," Ronen added.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, meanwhile, commented on the terrorist attack, stating: "We are cognizant that there could be external events that can have an impact on the environment. We also are cognizant that there may well be actors in the region who are deliberately making these kinds of attacks in order to try to sabotage the process."
The attack occurred just before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plane landed in Washington, where the Israeli leader is set to begin direct negotiations with PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The negotiations are aimed at creating a Palestinian state.
Members of Netanyahu's entourage said the prime minister was briefed on the events and that he instructed Israel's security agencies to prepare for the possibility of further attacks aimed at disrupting the Washington summit.