Mahmud Abbas warns of disbanding Palestinian Authority if no peace talks

Mahmud Abbas

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has warned that he will disband his Palestinian Authority if there was no Israeli movement toward renewing peace talks after Israel's elections on January 22.

Abbas, in an interview said that if such a situation arises he will hand full responsibility for the occupied West Bank to the Israeli government.

"If there is no progress even after the election I will take the phone and call (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu," Abbas said.

"I'll tell him...Sit in the chair here instead of me, take the keys, and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority."

"Once the new government in Israel is in place, Netanyahu will have to decide -- yes or no," Abbas said in the interview published on the paper's website late Thursday.

Talks between the two sides have been on hold since September 2010, with the Palestinians insisting on a settlement freeze before returning to the negotiating table

and the Israelis insisting on no preconditions.

Following last month's historic United Nations vote giving the Palestinians upgraded status in the world body Israel announced a new spate of settlement-building in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

In yesterday's interview Abbas said that since then Israel had also reduced security co-ordination with Palestinian forces in the West Bank.

He said that he would be willing to renew negotiations with Netanyahu after the election but would demand that Israel freeze further settlement construction while they are being held, renew the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues that Israel has been withholding and release some 120 long-term Palestinian prisoners.

"These are not preconditions, these are commitments Israel already took upon itself in the past," he told Haaretz.

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