Israel warns against Palestine's UN move
Jerusalem - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday bluntly told the European Union's top diplomat that UN recognition of a Palestinian state in September would render the Oslo Accords null and void.
At a breakfast meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Lieberman said the 1993 Oslo Accords that created the Palestinian Authority, and all the agreements reached since then, would be cancelled if they secured recognition of their independent state when the United Nations meets this autumn.
"The unilateral declaration at the United Nations would mean the end of the Oslo Agreement and a violation of all the agreements that were signed up to today," Lieberman was widely quoted as saying by all the mainstream Israel news websites and radio stations.
"Israel would no longer be bound to the agreements that were signed with the Palestinians over the last 18 years," he said in talks with Ashton who arrived on Thursday evening and is due to meet the Palestinian leadership later on Friday.
Ashton is on a four-day tour of the region for talks with officials in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Egypt, during which she is aiming to find a way to resume peace talks which collapsed late last year.
But Lieberman told her there was "zero chance of restarting peace talks", and launched an attack on Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, claiming he "does not want an agreement, he wants conflict" with Israel.
Suggestions of division
"By looking to secure a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, Mahmud Abbas is acting out of his own personal interests, without taking into account Palestinian interests nor the advice of many officials in the Palestinian Authority who are opposed to his initiative," public radio quoted him as saying.
Lieberman was referring to a growing number of media reports suggesting there is division within the Palestinian Authority over the diplomatic strategy of approaching the UN.
Later on Friday Ashton will meet Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad then have dinner with Abbas in a bid to explore options of bringing the parties back to the negotiating table after all direct contact was cut off last September.
Before arriving, Ashton said she was pushing for an urgent meeting of the Middle East Quartet of peacemaking diplomats to help relaunch negotiations, with diplomatic sources in Brussels telling AFP she was hoping for a swift meeting, by early July at the latest, in Washington.
On June 10, she wrote to her fellow Quartet principals - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon - calling for the Quartet to adopt a statement consolidating elements of US President Barack Obama's call for talks to resume on the basis of 1967 borders.
"It is critical that we make a gesture before the summer, because we need to contribute to a calming of a volatile situation," she wrote in her letter, a copy of which was seen by AFP.
"This is no time for unilateral moves on either side, since this could lead to escalation," she wrote.
Ashton is just one of a number of world leaders working to find a way to head off potentially volatile developments in September when the Palestinians approach the United Nations to request membership and recognition by the 192-member body in a move fiercely opposed by Israel.
She will travel to Cairo on Saturday to discuss events in Libya, before returning to Israel on Sunday for a joint meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Quartet envoy Tony Blair, an EU spokesperson said.
She will then fly to Luxembourg to brief the EU's 27 foreign ministers on Monday.