Kosovo Precedent for the Palestinians?

Yasser Abed-Rabbo's threat to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state like in the case of Kosovo may mark the creation of two contrasting approaches in the Palestinian moderate camp over the timing and circumstances of the establishment of a Palestinian state.
One of Abu Mazen's advisers, Yasser Abed Rabbo, suggested today that "If settlement activities are not halted in practice and if continuous and serious negotiations do not take place, we [the Palestinians] should take the step and unilaterally announce our independence like in Kosovo."

In 1988, in the Algiers Declaration, the Palestinians declared a state even though the PLO had no foothold in the West Bank or Gaza. Through the Oslo Process until the year 2000, the Palestinians demanded a Palestinian state, even threatening to do unilaterally achieve this goal before permanent borders were fixed (e.g. in 5/99, 9/00 and 11/00).

In recent years however, an 'inversion' in Fatah and the PLO's position towards a Palestinian State with Provisional Borders (PSPB) has taken place. Since 2005 Fatah and the PLO have officially rejected the idea calling it a trap. This expresses the growing position among the Palestinians that there is no need to agree to establish a Palestinian state unless its sovereign rights and attributes under international law as well as its permanent borders are guaranteed.

The implicit threat is that unless Israel agrees to establish such a Palestinian state in negotiations it will have to take full responsibility for the Palestinians. (See Ahmad Khalidi's article in the Guardian 12/13/07).

Yet even if Abed Rabbo's words were intended for the same purpose - to pressurize Israel into agreeing to establish a Palestinian state through negotiations - his position actually reflects the opposite approach. According to Abed Rabbo, if negotiations fail the Palestinians may actually prefer to unilaterally establish a state before it receives powers and authorities from Israel and its permanent borders are fixed.

It is possible that Abed Rabbo's comments are a one off. However, Israel should continue to evaluate whether this marks the creation of two contrasting approaches in the Palestinian moderate camp over the timing and circumstances of the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Sources

Barak Ravid, Ha'aretz, 2/20/08; full article.

Ahmad Khalidi, Guardian, 12/13/07, full article.