The Palestinian Authority is considering cutting off its diplomatic contacts with Israel and unilaterally declaring its statehood, the Arabic language a-Sharq al-Awsef reported on Friday. A Palestinian official told the newspaper, “in light of the crisis we have encountered in talks with Israel, the Authority is testing a number of options.” A determining factor in what President Abbas will do is determined by the trilateral talks that will be held in Washington D.C. next week. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insists there can be peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority within the coming months.
A major hindrance to attaining peace is the continued policy of Israel to build settlements in the West Bank which are in clear violation of agreements. The decision of the Israel government last week to build a new settlement was a deliberate provocation that can only result in anger on the part of the Palestinian Authority.
A hopeful sign was the statement by Barack Obama in his interview with the Jerusalem Post in which he made critical remarks concerning West Bank settlements. The United States must oppose such policies which can only impair opportunities for peace in the Middle East.