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Officials Warn of Possible Collapse of Palestinian Authority

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Palestinian officials have warned that the stalled Middle East peace process and the threatened resignation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could result in the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was quoted Monday as warning that frustration over the lack of progress toward a Palestinian state could prompt Palestinians to dismantle the authority.

President Abbas said last week he has no intention of running for re-election in a presidential vote he has scheduled for January. Mr. Abbas has threatened to step down in the past as a negotiating tactic.

Some observers suspect talk of dismantling the Palestinian Authority may be a tactic to pressure Israel to halt construction at Jewish settlements in occupied territory.

Mr. Abbas has led the Palestinian peace effort with Israel since becoming president of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration appeared to endorse his position by calling on Israel to freeze settlement constriction to help revive the peace process.

In a speech last week, Mr. Abbas expressed surprise with Washington's recent call for Israelis and Palestinians to renew negotiations without conditions.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.