Ma'an News Agency
April 19, 2011 - 12:00am

A new Palestinian Authority cabinet will be announced within the week, President Mahmoud Abbas told interviewers on the Al-Arabiya satellite channel Monday, as he headed for Tunis to meet with its new transitional government.

"Since Hamas did not respond positively, we cannot wait anymore," Abbas said over his earlier decision to postpone the reappointment of a cabinet, which he said was an attempt to buy time for a reconciliation effort between Fatah and Hamas.

The former PA cabinet resigned on February 14. Under Palestinian Basic Law, Abbas gave Salam Fayyad five weeks - two weeks and a three week extension - to form a new government. Fayyad had suggested the incorporation of Hamas members into the new cabinet, but Hamas said it was never contacted over the plan. Since February, the resigned cabinet has been acting in a caretaker capacity.

During the interview, and talking Friday to AFP, Abbas hinted at the dissolution of the PA if talks with Israel did not resume.

Abbas told AFP Friday that he would not allow any Israeli troops to be deployed in a future Palestinian state, despite Israel's insistence that it would maintain a military presence along the West Bank's border with Jordan.

Israel has said it would need a security presence for around 40 years to ensure the border between any Palestinian state and Jordan was secure.

Abbas said he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last September that a continued military presence would torpedo the possibility of an independent Palestinian state, and would effectively destroy the Palestinian Authority.

It was the first time Abbas had spoken of the possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority which he heads.

He expressed similar sentiments in an in-flight interview with Al-Ayyam en route to Tunis, saying: "I ask myself what I should do when negotiations are suspended and all doors are closed? Should I go to the Arab League, the Islamic Conference Organization, or the Non-Aligned countries? I will go to the United Nations, and the reason is that president Obama had said he wanted to see Palestine with full membership in the UN. I will ask him if he can fulfill his promise or not."

Abbas noted that he had never said he would dissolve the Palestinian Authority. "I said that after September, the Palestinian leadership will have to decide what to do rather than disbanding the PA. I never said that."

To Al-Arabiya, however, Asked about an alternative plan in case the PA’s push for recognition failed, Abbas did not comment. He said Israel's plan for a provisional state would not be accepted, adding that "We count on US President Barak Obama’s remarks when he said he wanted to see a Palestinian state next September which is the same date set by the International Quartet. Under occupation, we are an authority without authority."

Diplomatic course still on

Abbas appears to be continuing in his mission to secure diplomatic support for a Palestinian state, arriving Monday night in Tunis for talks with the transitional government set up after a popular uprising that has inspired protests throughout the Arab world.

He noted that more than 130 countries had already recognized a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. "If we put more efforts, the number will rise to 140 or 150, and by the way even western countries like Britain, France and Spain which have not recognize Palestinian state accept the idea even if they have not recognized it."

On his trip to Tunis, Abbas is accompanied by his his diplomatic adviser Majdi El Khaldi and caretaker chief peace negotiator Saeb Erakat.

Erakat resigned in February over controversy stemming from the release of confidential PLO documents related to a decade of Israel-Palestinian negotiations by the Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera.

The president commented on Erekat's continued role as negotiator, confirming to Al-Arabiya that the official had resigned but was asked to retain his role for the time being.

Abbas' plans include talks with interim President Foued Mebazaa and Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, running Tunisia after the January uprising that ousted veteran President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and triggered a wave of popular protests across the Arab world, including the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

After Tunis he will travel to Paris for "consultations" with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"I will go to France on the 21st and next month I will be in Germany," he told AFP Friday, after recent visits to England, Denmark and Russia.

Abbas also answered questions on the status of charges against former top Fatah official in Gaza Mohammed Dahlan.

The president said Dahlan was being questioned over unpublicized charges. The Israeli press has reported that the charges were related to the purchase of arms and an attempt to establish an independent militia in the West Bank.

As long as Dahlan remained under suspicion, Abbas said he would be banned from attending the Fatah Central Committee meetings. "He will not practice any official roles until the end of the interrogation which will prove him either guilty or innocent," Abbas said without elaborating on the charges.


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