United Nations headquarters in New York
TEL AVIV – The Palestinian Authority has been negotiating an understanding with the Obama administration regarding a Palestinian threat to unilaterally ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state outside of negotiations with Israel, WND has learned.
According to a senior PA official, the PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, headed a team that held a series of meetings the past few weeks with members of the Obama administration in Washington to discuss the U.S. response should the Palestinians bring to the U.N. Security Council a resolution to unilaterally create a Palestinian state.
“The U.S. position is less restrained than it appears in the media,” said the PA official, referring to media claims the U.S. would veto any such resolution.
The PA official told WND the Obama administration did not threaten to veto the conceptual unilateral resolution, which had been threatened by the Palestinians last month.
The official also said the U.S. supports the creation of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, meaning in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.
The report follows a WND interview last month with Ahmed Qurei, former PA prime minister and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee, who said the PA “reached an understanding with important elements within the (Obama) administration” to possibly bring the resolution to the U.N. Security Council.
Asked to which “elements” he was referring, Qurei would only say they were from the Obama administration.
A top PA negotiator, speaking on condition of anonymity, named the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, and National Security Council member Samantha Power as among the Obama administration officials who were involved with the Palestinians’ U.N. threat.
“The U.S. told us that they prefer a negotiated settlement with Israel, but if we (Palestinians) insist on a resolution, the Americans will not necessarily reject it,” the PA negotiator said.
“The U.S. has a history of never before vetoing any U.N. move to create a new state,” the negotiator pointed out.
U.S. supporting Palestinian land grab
While the Obama administration has long called for a halt to Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem, it is “totally supporting” the building of official Palestinian institutions in those same areas as well as the strategic West Bank, a top Palestinian Authority official recently told WND.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed a recent report by Israel’s Shabak security services that the PA has been opening official institutions in what are termed areas B and C.
According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, territories defined as area A are entirely administered and controlled by the Palestinians; area B is administered by the PA but controlled by Israel; whereas area C, including eastern Jerusalem, is supposed to be entirely administered and controlled by Israel.
In defiance of the accords, the Palestinians in recent months have opened up official institutions, including PA ministry offices, in area C.
A WND investigation previously determined the U.S. has been aiding the Palestinians in developing infrastructure in eastern Jerusalem, including on property legally owned by Jews.
That development has been unfolding in multiple area C neighborhoods, such as the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis, which are close to the Jewish neighborhoods of Neve Yaacov and Pisgat Zeev in Israel’s capital. Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis are located entirely within the Jerusalem municipality.
A tour of the Jerusalem neighborhoods found some surprising developments. Official PA logos and placards abound, including one glaring red street sign at the entrance to the neighborhoods warning Israelis to keep out.
Another official sign, in Kfar Akeb in Jerusalem, reads in English, “Ramallah-Jerusalem Road. This project is a gift form (sic) the American people to the Palestinian people in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and PECDAR. 2007.”
The sign bears the emblems of the American and PA governments and of the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. The displays were not present during a previous WND tour of the neighborhoods in 2006.
Some local schools in the Jerusalem neighborhoods are officially run by the PA – some in conjunction with the U.N. – with many teachers drawing PA salaries. Civil disputes are usually settled not in Israeli courts but by the PA judicial system, although at times Israeli courts are used, depending on the matter.
Councils governed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization oversee some municipal matters. USAID provides the PA funds for road and infrastructure projects.
Israeli security officials said the local Jerusalem police rarely operate in peripheral eastern Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods. Instead, security has been turned over to the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police, who work almost daily with PA security forces. The PA police operate in the Jerusalem neighborhoods in coordination with Israel.
Shmulik Ben Ruby, spokesman for the Jerusalem police, confirmed the arrangement.
“If there are fights between some local families, sometimes we involve the PA police to make peace between the families,” he told WND. “Yes, the PA police can operate in these neighborhoods in coordination with the IDF and Border Police.”
Dmitri Ziliani, a spokesman for the Jerusalem section of Fatah, confirmed to WND the Palestinians have set up local command in some neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
“We were covering the best ways to improve our performance on the street and how we can be of service to the community,” Ziliani said.
Ziliani said the PA holds regular official meetings in Jerusalem in anticipation of a future Palestinian state encompassing all of eastern Jerusalem.
“Our political program, as Fatah, dictates there will be no Palestinian state if these areas – all of east Jerusalem – are not included,” Ziliani told WND.
According to Israeli law, the PA cannot officially meet in Jerusalem. The PA previously maintained a de facto headquarters in Jerusalem, called Orient House, but the building was closed by Israel in 2001 following a series of suicide bombings in Jerusalem. Israel said it had information indicating the House was used to plan and fund terrorism.
Thousands of documents and copies of bank certificates and checks captured by Israel from Orient House – including many documents obtained by WND – showed the offices were used to finance terrorism, including direct payments to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group.
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