JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Palestinian Authority said it may postpone plans to seek unilateral recognition of statehood at the United Nations in September in exchange for U.S. guarantees that Israel would refrain from "creating facts on the ground."
Following meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington earlier this week, senior official Saeb Erekat said the P.A. would consider returning to the negotiating table on the condition that Israel accept the pre-1967 armistice lines, with land swaps, and agree to end construction in all areas outside those lines.
"[President Mahmoud] Abbas will agree to negotiate with Israel only if [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is willing to embark on talks on the basis of the 1967 border and declares it publicly and in addition to agreeing to freeze construction in the settlements," he said.
The P.A. defines "settlements" as cities and towns in the West Bank -- biblical Judea and Samaria -- and neighborhoods in Jerusalem that were under Jordanian occupation prior to the 1967 Six Day War.
Erekat said if Israel will not meet these conditions, the P.A. will go forward with its plan to seek unilateral recognition of statehood at the U.N.
Meanwhile, Hamas said it's considering withdrawing from active participation in the government in the Gaza Strip, The Associated Press reported. Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2007 after defeating P.A. security forces in a bloody military coup.
"Hamas found that being in government caused huge damage to the movement and therefore it has changed its policy," one Hamas official told AP.
"Hamas is re-evaluating its choices and resetting its priorities," Hamas legislator Yehya Mussa said. "Being in government was a burden on Hamas, a burden on the image of Hamas, a burden on its resistance enterprise," he said.
According to the report, the move is aimed at avoiding international isolation and allowing international aid to continue flowing. No mention was made of Netanyahu's statement to a joint session of Congress last month that he would not negotiate with anyone "backed by the Palestinian version of al Qaeda."
During his address to Congress, Netanyahu also said "Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries" that existed before the Six Day War, and Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of the Jewish state.
"You have to understand this," he said. "In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We're not the British in India. We're not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers," he said.
"Under any realistic peace agreement, these areas -- as well as other places of critical strategic and national importance -- would be incorporated into the final borders of Israel," Netanyahu said.