Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

What do the Palestinians want?

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Even a quick look at various Palestinian officials' statements over the past few weeks can reveal an inconsistent and somewhat confusing picture of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) official policy regarding the alternatives of negotiations with Israel and their plans to try to get UN recognition of Palestinian statehood in September.

In an interview with the Lebanese TV network LBC earlier this week, PA President Mahmud Abbas stated: "I do not know if the United States have another option, but given an alternative we will not go to the United Nations... If there are no negotiations I will have no other choice but going to the UN," hinting that a renewal of negotiations is a preferred alternative to unilateral UN recognition. An anonymous source in Ramallah told the news agency AP this Thursday that the Palestinian leadership might even be willing to lift its demand for a complete freeze on construction in the settlements in Judea and Samaria for the sake of a renewal of political negotiations (though he emphasised that a resolution in the matter has not been reached yet). However, The following day the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said to reporters that the Palestinians plan to promote the UN vote on recognition in September, regardless of the possibility of renewal of peace talks, adding that Palestinian independence is not one of the core issues that are to be negotiated.

These four conflicting and contradictory statements from various PA sources regarding future negotiations versus unilateral move at the UN lead to one major question- what do the Palestinians want?