Abu Mazen hints at PNA dissolution, resignation

Abbas: We will never accept occupation to continue

Palestinians hail state recognition by Brazil, other countries

Abul-Gheit says U.S. efforts should be given chance

Israelis admit diggings to cause Aqsa Mosque collapse

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned he may dissolve his self-rule government and ask Israel to resume full control of the West Bank if troubled peace talks fail.

Dismantling the Palestinian Authority would be a last resort, Abbas told Palestine TV in an interview.

However, his comments marked the most explicit warning yet that he's considering a step that could crush lingering hopes for a Mideast peace deal.

If Abbas were to take such a step, Israel, as a military occupier, would have to assume full responsibility again for 2.2 million Palestinians in the West Bank. Israel was relieved of that financial burden with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, as part of interim peace deals.

Still, Abbas might face considerable domestic opposition to dismantling the Palestinian Authority, since it employs some 150,000 Palestinians, a large chunk of the work force.

The Palestinian self-rule government, which receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in foreign aid, has limited authority over 40 per cent of the war-won West Bank, while Israel has final say over the entire area and exclusive control over 60 per cent of the land.

Palestinian leaders currently are threatening to quit peace talks with Israel unless it freezes construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel so far has refused to do so.

Abbas has said that if peace negotiations collapse, the Palestinians might seek unilateral U.N. recognition of a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War.

If all efforts fail, Abbas said, "I will tell the Americans and the Israelis, come and put an end to all this. I can't continue like this. We have an occupation and we don't. No, keep it all and release me (from my responsibility)".

Netanyahu called Abbas to thank him for sending members of the Palestinian civil defense to help fight a major fire that is devouring much of the Carmel Forest in northern Israel. It was a rare instance of personal contact after weeks of silence between the two leaders.

Meanwhile, Abbas' interior minister ordered the closure of a satellite TV station co-owned by Mohammed Dahlan, a former confidant of the Palestinian leader.

The station, "Palestine Tomorrow," was to begin broadcasting in January. Palestinian security forces came to the office of the company operating the station and delivered the closure order, said a senior station official who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fear of further retaliation.

Dahlan, a former Gaza strongman, and Interior Minister Said Abu Ali declined comment.

Shuttering the station seems to be the latest sign that Dahlan, a leading member of Abbas' Fatah movement, has fallen out of favor. Dahlan once served as a security adviser to Abbas, and at one point was considered a potential successor to the president.

Meanwhile, Israel has expressed disappointment at Brazil's decision to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, saying it flew in the face of efforts to negotiate a peace deal.

In a public letter addressed to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, recognized Palestine as an independent state within the 1967 borders.

The decision came in response to a personal request made by Abbas on November 24, according to the letter published on the foreign ministry's website.

"Considering that the demand presented by His Excellency [Abbas] is just and consistent with the principles upheld by Brazil with regard to the Palestinian issue, Brazil, through this letter, recognizes a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders," it said.

The letter refers to the "legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state coexisting peacefully with Israel". A statement from the Israeli foreign ministry said: "The government of Israel expresses sadness and disappointment over the decision by the Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a month before he steps down.

"Recognition of a Palestinian state is a breach of the interim agreement which was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995 which said that the issue of the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be discussed and resolved through negotiations," it said.

Such a move also contravened the 2003 Middle East roadmap for peace, which said a Palestinian state could only be established through negotiations and not through unilateral actions, the statement said, warning that unilateral steps would harm attempts to build trust.

"Every attempt to bypass this process and to decide in advance in a unilateral manner about important issues which are disputed, only harms trust between the sides, and hurts their commitment to the agreed framework of negotiating towards peace," the Israeli statement said.

The international community backs Palestinian demands for a state in most of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, all territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 six day war.

But the United States and most Western governments have held back from recognizing a Palestinian state, saying it should be brought about through a negotiated peace agreement with Israel.

In a parallel statement, the Brazilian government assured relations with Israel "have never been more robust."

Brazil has offered to help mediate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which were briefly revived in September before grounding to a halt over the resumption of Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories.

Abbas says he will not return to negotiations while Israel continues to build on land the Palestinians want for a future state. But Israel has so far refused to impose a new ban.

Over the last few weeks, Abbas has repeatedly said he would explore other options if peace talks with the Israelis collapse, one of which would see him seeking United Nations' recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

A Palestinian official said Washington had officially informed them that attempts to secure a new Israeli settlement freeze had failed, but US officials refused to confirm or deny the report.

Abbas visited Brazil in 2005 and 2009, and Lula made the first-ever trip by a Brazilian head of state to Palestine and Israel in March this year.

Arab states believe US efforts to save direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks should be given more time to succeed, Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit said.

"Arab countries and members of the peace Follow-up Committee (of the Arab League) feel that they have not to close the door and to allow the American effort a further opportunity or possibility," he said during a visit to Bucharest.

"But the moment of truth will be reached soon and the Arab peace committee will have to convene in order to look into the situation and then they will decide which of the available options to pursue," said Abul-Gheit, who gave no date for the meeting.

The Egyptian minister was speaking at a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart Teodor Baconschi.

Abul-Gheit is on a regional tour which also includes Ukraine, Hungary and Bulgaria.

In early October, Arab League ministers gave the United States one month to save direct Middle East peace talks which they warned would collapse unless Israel halts settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

On the other hand, the U.S. State Department condemned an official Palestinian report last week asserting that Jerusalem’s Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites, is not Jewish.

Al-Mutawakil Taha, deputy information minister in the Palestinian Authority, published a five-page study disputing Jews' reverence of the shrine as a retaining wall of the compound of Biblical Jewish Temples destroyed centuries ago.

"We strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.

"We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of de-legitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land," he added.

Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "denial of the connection between the Jewish people and the Western Wall by the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Information is baseless and scandalous."

The wall is adjacent to a politically sensitive holy complex in a part of Jerusalem that Israel captured in a 1967 war. The area, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, is home to al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

In the report, Taha wrote the Western wall is a "Muslim wall and an integral part of al-Aqsa mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif," a position echoing past statements by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Taha issued the document after Israel approved a five-year renovation plan for the Western Wall area on November 21. Israel annexed East Jerusalem, where the Western Wall is located, after the 1967 conflict and claimed all of Jerusalem as its capital in a move that has not won international recognition.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of the state they want to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

U.S.-brokered peace talks are supposed to address the issue of Jerusalem, but the negotiations were put on hold by the Palestinians soon after they began in September when Netanyahu refused to extend a partial building freeze in West Bank settlements.