Annexation of large areas of the West Bank by Israel has now become a distinct possibility with the unilateral decision this week to scrap any trace of the existence of the Palestinian Authority by its President Mahmoud Abbas.
In a "Presidential decree" Abbas has called for all official documents - including passports, drivers' licenses, postage stamps and car number plates - to now bear the name 'State of Palestine', instead of the generally used 'Palestinian National Authority'.
Abbas has also ordered foreign ministries and embassies around the world to start using the title.
Abbas's decree comes just a few days after he had reportedly told an Israeli politician that if there was no progress in the peace talks:
I will take the phone and call Netanyahu and tell him: 'Sit in the chair instead of me; take the keys and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority.
His remark prompted this angry response from senior Hamas official Abu Marzouk, in a posting on Facebook:
Why does Abbas want to hand the keys over to Netanyahu? Why not hand it over to Hamas?
Abu Marzouk - who turned 62 on January 9 and is slated to replace Khaled Mashaal as head of Hamas - said it would have been:
...better and more effective had Abbas threatened to hand the West Bank to Hamas.
In a fearless riposte - Jamal Muheisen, a member of the Fatah Central Council, said the Palestinians should first hold presidential and legislative elections to choose their leaders
Whoever wins in the elections will be handed the keys of the entire Palestinian Authority, be it Hamas or Fatah or any other Palestinian faction,
Now it seems the keys to control of the entire Palestinian Authority have been thrown down the drain by its own President just days later - as have any hopes of negotiating a two-state solution as prescribed by the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap.
David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at www.jordanispalestine.blogspot.com.