Washington DC and Ramallah are 11,000 miles apart but that distance could be a lot greater, as illustrated by this week's events. Wednesday Oct. 20, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "We remain convinced that if they persevere with negotiations, the parties can agree on an outcome that ends the conflict, reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps."
She had no new messages to offer when she addressed the annual gala of the American Taskforce for Palestine in the US capital, whereas in Ramallah the lights in the offices of the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minster Salam Fayyad burned well into the night.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's sources report that the two Palestinians are full of energy and new plans – which they call audacious – for circumventing what they regard as historic American government support for Israel, continuing to avoid direct talks with the Netanyahu government, and confronting Washington and Jerusalem with a new angle for addressing the conflict that does not require Israel's consent or even participation.
Their widely publicized plan to call on the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state within pre-1967 boundaries is not their first option. Our sources report that the PA has come up with a more complex scenario which it is planning to test very soon. It consists of four steps:
1. To start building a small Palestinian airfield on the West Bank north of Jericho near the Arab village of Baqiya for direct flights to destinations in Europe. It would initially serve carriers of West Bank Palestinian farm produce flying to European markets.
The site chosen for this airfield is in Area C, i.e. under Israeli civilian and military authority according to the Oslo Peace Framework accords. But Palestinian leaders have no intention of asking Israel for permission for the project; instead they hope the Netanyahu government will rise to the challenge and send troops to stop the construction work and seize the site.
Ducking talks with Israel at any price
2. That will give the Palestinian Authority its pretext for complaining to Washington and the United Nations that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have no intention of making good on their consent to Palestinian statehood, witness their readiness to sabotage its future infrastructure. The PA will then offer a solution to this impasse: a United Trusteeship for Palestinian territory within the pre-1967 boundaries.
3. The army of international law experts and legal advisers the PA hired in the last two months produced a precedent: The Palau Island Republic, 500 miles east of the Philippines, emerged in 1994 from UN trusteeship administered by the United States as one of the world's youngest and smallest sovereign states. It voted to freely associate with the US while retaining independence under the Compact of Free Association after a long period of transition from 1947 during which two presidents died violent deaths.
The Palestinians are not seeking US administration, but have chosen the Palau precedent as the fast track to independence with Washington's support.
4. The PA's fallback formula failing the Palau precedent would be a bid for the UN Security Council to vote for United Nation recognition of all Palestinian territory not held by Israel prior to the 1967 war, namely the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan, as part of a future Palestinian state.
Abbas and Fayyad take it for granted that the Obama administration, which supports a two-state solution of the Middle East conflict, will abstain from voting on this motion and it would be carried by a vote of 14 with one abstention.
They see this resolution as the means of manipulating the world body to confirm the international borders of the two states, Israel and Palestine, while relieving Palestinian leaders of the need to face Israel across a negotiating table for a mutually-agreed accommodation.