Israel’s ambassador to the United States has said he is concerned about the prospects of a Palestinian unity government in the West Bank, amid tensions over the Palestinian Authority’s failure to agree to a roadmap for future peace talks.
Ambassador Ron Dermer told a conference in Washington on Wednesday that the PA’s refusal to hold an early election on the basis of the roadmap could leave the Palestinian leadership with no choice but to resort to an early general election.
“I think the prospects for a new government are looking very bad, as it stands,” Dermer said.
He said that the Palestinians are trying to achieve a “new reality” by holding a new election and said they were making no effort to avoid the election, despite the fact that the elections were postponed for a week.
Dermer said that if the Palestinians do not meet the roadmap, “they will have no choice except to resort back to the ballot box”.
He also expressed concern about the possibility that Israel would attempt to unilaterally declare a “state of emergency” that could force the release of Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
Israel’s security cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to establish an emergency committee to negotiate with the Palestinian authorities over the implementation of the West-to-West peace plan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the move, saying it would undermine the peace process and “could undermine Israel’s credibility”.
However, the president of the Palestinian National Initiative, Saeb Erekat, said the committee would have the powers of a state within a state, with ministerial responsibilities to oversee the implementation.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has stalled amid tensions between the two sides over the fate of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in the Israeli jails and a prisoner release.
The two sides have been unable to reach an agreement on the release or transfer of prisoners, and Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are still locked in talks about prisoner exchange.