02/21/2008, 00.00
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Kosovo-styled independence raising doubts among Palestinians

In a statement the secretary general of PLO Central Committee raises the possibility that Palestine might follow Kosovo’s path but causes instead mixed reactions about its chances.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – When Abd Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Central Committee, suggested that Palestine should follow Kosovo’s example and declared independence unilaterally he got Israel’s attention. He also got an immediate rebuttal from Palestinian President who rejected the idea, writes the Jerusalem Post. For a minute though it seemed that talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were shaken awake as Rabbo “managed to bring some drama to the process,” noted Haaretz.

A day after talks between Mr Abbas and Israeli PM Ehud Olmert ended without visible progress, the PLO secretary general said that “Kosovo is not better than us. We deserve independence even before Kosovo, and we ask for the backing of the United States and the European Union for our independence.”

“If the situation does not progress [. . .] we must undertake steps similar to that in Kosovo and unilaterally declare independence,” he added.

President Abbas responded saying that Palestinians are committed to reaching a negotiated peace agreement this year, but if “we are unable to do that  . . . we will return to our Arab [brothers] to take the appropriate decision,” he said.

The statement left itself open to interpretations and in Israel some looked at it in light of what others had to say; people like Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, who voiced opposition to any unilateral declaration of independence, pointing out that the PLO had already declared independence in 1988.

Instead “we need real independence, not a declaration. We need real independence by ending the occupation,” Erekat stressed.

Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said that “decisions should be taken and then declared, and not be declared and then be taken.” (PD)

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