Abbas aide: Palestinians should emulate Kosovo

Like Kosovars, Palestinians should declare independence if diplomatic progress stalls, said a senior aide to Mahmoud Abbas.

Citing Israel’s West Bank settlements as an obstacle to future Palestinian statehood, Yasser Abed Rabbo said Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority should copy Kosovo, the predominantly Muslim province of Serbia that declared independence on Sunday, with Western support but in the face of Serbian opposition.

“If things are not going in the direction of actually halting settlement activities, if things are not going in the direction of continuous and serious negotiations, then we should take the step and announce our independence unilaterally,” Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to the P.A. president, told Reuters. “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.”

Abed Rabbo’s remarks were quickly disavowed by other aides to Abbas, who voiced confidence in revived negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Kosovo’s declaration of independence has been a source of alarm for countries with restive ethnic minorities, which fear the precedent could stoke widespread separatist movements.

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