REPORTING FROM BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK -– The Palestinian Authority on Thursday gave the so-called quartet of Middle East peace negotiators an ultimatum: It will resume its campaign for statehood recognition if there is no movement in the peace process in the next month.
"If nothing happens by Jan. 26, we are going back to our international campaign for recognition," said Nabil Shaath, a senior official in the administration of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The quartet -– the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -– had given the Palestinians and Israel until Jan. 26 to submit proposals for borders and security.
The Palestinian Authority has submitted its proposal, but Israel has said it will submit its proposal only at the negotiating table. The Palestinians insist that there will be no negotiations before Israel stops all settlement activities, a move that does not appear imminent.
With the peace talks deadlocked for more than a year, the Palestinians went to the United Nations in the fall asking for full membership. They currently have observer status in the international body.
The move angered the U.S. and its allies, which demanded that the Palestinians return to the negotiating table.
The quartet announced its latest initiative on Sept. 23, shortly before Abbas submitted the membership application to the U.N.
Shaath complained that the Palestinian issue is not a U.S. priority, and warned, "We might as well go back to international activism and national unity."
-- Maher Abukhater
Photo: A Palestinian activist dressed as Santa Claus decorates a concrete tree with barbed wire and tear-gas canisters at Manger Square in Bethlehem on Thursday. The tree is meant to depict a controversial barrier built by Israel to separate the Palestinian and Israeli populations. Credit: Musa al-Shaer / AFP / Getty Images