Is Abu-Mazen Driving the Political Process to a Deadlock?

The Re'ut Institute contends that Abu-Mazen's rejection of a Palestinian state with provisional borders, leads the political process towards a deadlock.

Abu-Mazen stated that Palestinians view a Palestinian State with Provisional Borders (PSPB) before a Permanent Status Agreement as a “trap” and expressed a desire to establish a back-channel to discuss Permanent Status parallel to negotiations concerning the Roadmap (New York Times, 2/14/05).

What’s the Issue?

Abu Mazen expresses the conflicting approaches regarding the Roadmap:

  • Israel – the PSPB will be established independent of the resolution of Permanent Status issues (e.g. June 4th borders; refugees / Right of Return; Jerusalem or Holy Sites);
  • The Palestinians – Agreement on a PSPB is dependent on understandings regarding Permanent Status.

Therefore, the parties may be headed towards a deadlock in the negotiations regarding the establishment of a PSPB in the Second Phase of the Roadmap.

The Roadmap is the formally agreed upon framework for the political process between Israel, the Palestinians, the US and the International Community.

At its core, the Roadmap calls for a PSPB before a Permanent Status Agreement. This structure represents a reversal of the sequence suggested by the Oslo Process (Palestinian State with permanent borders following and according to a Permanent Status agreement).

Furthermore, at present, it appears that Israel and the Palestinians have fundamental disagreements regarding Permanent Status (4/6/67 lines, Right of Return, sovereignty over Jerusalem and so forth).

Why is this Singnificant? Why Now?

Because Abu-Mazen challenges the PSPB, which is the pillar of the Roadmap.

Because it appears that a PSPB is perceived in Israel as an Israeli interest:

  • Establishment of a PSPB cements the “Two-State Solution” and will establish clear standards for the Palestinian side (e.g. unity of command over the armed factions);
  • Establishing a PSPB will allow for state-to-state negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian State regarding bilateral agreements that will comprise "chapters" of the Permanent Status Agreement thus dismantling the all-or-nothing structure of the Oslo Process (one comprehensive Permanent Status Agreement).

Because Abu Mazen's proposal to establish a back-channel to discuss Permanent Status undermines the Roadmap:

  • A back-channel instead of negotiations on a PSPB = return to the structure of a Palestinian State after a Permanent Status Agreement = return to an all-or-nothing process;
  • A back-channel in parallel with negotiations on a PSPB may render negotiations on the PSPB futile.

Hence, Abu Mazen’s position may lead to an impasse in negotiations for a PSPB in the 2nd Phase of the Roadmap as well as in negotiations on a Permanent Status Agreement.

Policy-Options

To pressure Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority to formally accept the Roadmap, including a PSPB, with "no ifs, ands or buts".

To Upgrade the political status of the Palestinian Authority by increasing its attributes of statehood (e.g. PA membership in international organizations, PA representatives abroad and so forth) thus preparing the ground for a PSPB.

To Prepare for Unilateral Recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a State through Israeli actions in coordination with third parties.