Natasha Mozgovaya
August 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday forecast a "moment of reckoning" in the coming weeks when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is forced to explain what kind of state he has in mind for the Palestinians.

The Palestinians are set to resume direct negotiations with Israel in Washington on Thursday. They will be the first direct talks in 20 months and are the result of painstaking U.S. diplomacy aimed at reviving the peace process.

Fayyad has expressed doubt about whether Netanyahu is ready to offer the Palestinians a state on terms they could accept.

Last year, Fayyad said Netanyahu appeared to have a "Mickey Mouse" state in mind for the Palestinians on lands occupied by Israel.

"What kind of state does Mr. Netanyahu have in mind when he says 'Palestinian state'?" Fayyad said in a press briefing on Monday.

"I think this is a most fundamental question and I believe, without wishing to really prejudge what will happen in the next few days, the next few weeks, we are approaching that moment of reckoning," Fayyad said.

"Some questions really need to be answered," said Fayyad, unveiling the steps his administration plans to take over the next 12 months to complete a two-year plan aimed at building the institutions of a Palestinian state.

The Palestinians are seeking a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Their credibility damaged by the failure of past talks, the Palestinians had sought a sense of the shape and size of the Palestinian state Netanyahu has in mind before agreeing to more negotiations.

They did not get their wish, which Netanyahu said amounted to preconditions. U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell said the parties would determine the terms of reference of the talks when they meet.

"There is not really a whole lot of time to waste," Fayyad said, warning of "adverse facts" created on the ground that will make the two-state solution "more and more difficult to implement".

Israeli settlement expansion on Palestinian land is one of the factors the Palestinians warn will render statehood impossible.

The Palestinians have threatened to pull out of the face-to-face negotiations unless Israel extends a moratorium on new housing in West Bank settlements past its expiration date of Sept. 26.

Meanwhile, a recent poll published by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion revealed 31.7 % of the Palestinian public favors the re-launching of direct negotiations, while 31.1 % are in favor of continuing the indirect talks and 31.1 % want the negotiations to be frozen.

The poll, prepared by Dr. Nabil Kukali, also shows that a majority (79.4 %) of Palestinians believe the visits from U.S. envoy, George Mitchell, will not lead to any progress in the peace process, and that two-thirds of Palestinians do not believe that U.S. President Barack Obama is capable of establishing a Palestinian state.

More than half of the Palestinians prefer a two-state solution, rather than a bi-national state.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017