Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi has called for large-scale peaceful protests in support of a Palestinian bid for United Nations membership in September.
In a statement released from his cell in Israel’s Hadarim prison, West Bank Fatah leader Barghouthi, who is widely considered as the architect of the second Palestinian intifada, said winning the ‘battle of next September’ would require mass mobilisation in the occupied Palestinian territories and abroad.
He said in a statement: ‘Winning the battle of next September, which is an important step in our struggle, requires the biggest peaceful popular protests here and in the diaspora, and in Arab and Muslim countries and international capitals.
‘This means the mobilisation of all the energies of our people and the involvement of everyone in this battle.’
With peace talks stalled, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is planning to request UN membership for a state of Palestine based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War.
The bid is fiercely opposed by Israel, which has already begun preparing for the possibility of large-scale demonstrations in the West Bank, Gaza and along its borders in September.
Last Wednesday, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) ambassador to the UN said he was confident of success in September.
Citing what he described as ‘balance of power’ diplomacy, ambassador Riyad Mansur said: ‘We will not fail at this session of the General Assembly, but the extent of our success will depend on many factors that are evolving.
‘The Israelis have acknowledged their defeat by saying they will count it a success if they manage to convince 30 countries not to vote for our resolution,’ he added, referring to Israel’s desire to secure a ‘moral majority’ of democratic countries voting against the bid.
‘But they will still be defeated because they will not get the 30 countries to vote against us,’ he stressed.
Barghouthi called on all Palestinian factions to get behind the bid.
He said: ‘It’s not just the fight of President Mahmud Abbas, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the Palestinian Authority, the factions or the embassies.
‘It’s the fight of every citizen, every Palestinian and Arab, every free person in the world.’
The Palestinian factions ‘should rise above their differences for the sake of this fight,’ Barghouthi added.
Also on Wednesday, Palestinian youth movements and over 100 non-governmental organisations threatened to return to the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip if the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas do not reconcile their differences and implement the reconciliation agreement they concluded in Cairo in May.
The March 15 Youth Coalition said in a statement that since two months have passed since the signing of the reconciliation agreement without achieving its goals, the youth movement is considering going to the street to demand implementation of the agreement.
‘Going to the street is inevitable if the Palestinian leadership does not respond to public demand and start actual implementation of the (reconciliation) agreement,’ said the statement.
The youth coalition rejected the claim that the negotiators need more time to enforce the agreement, describing these claims as senseless.
‘The national cause is at a very critical juncture. To pass it, we need to be united and to rise above all differences,’ it insisted.
In addition, 110 Palestinian NGOs sent an urgent appeal to the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to implement the reconciliation agreement and end the division that has afflicted the Palestinian people for years.
‘The stumbling in the formation of the government due to differences over who will be prime minister is a cause of public concern,’ said a statement by the NGOs.
‘We raise our voice, calling for avoiding outside pressure and stressing the priority of reconciliation and national unity in the face of conditions and outside pressures,’ the statement said.
The NGOs called for immediate and quick implementation of the reconciliation agreement, particularly in forming the government of technocrats ‘because slowness in implementation reflects negatively on the spirit and hopes of our people.’
Meanwhile, Palestinian factions on Tuesday started a workshop in Turkey on how to reinforce the reconciliation.
The workshop was attended by members of Fatah, Hamas and other political factions and civil society organisations.
• Ramallah Al-Ayyam in Arabic privately-owned, pro-Fatah daily, has published a report carrying exclusive statements made by Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’th.
Speaking to Al-Ayyam, Sha’th said: ‘The Palestinian side is facing a fierce battle with the Israelis and the Americans regarding the issue of the recognition of the Palestinian state.’
Sha’th added: ‘We should not only depend on the achievement we have made. There is a good diplomatic move, but Israel is moving against us.’
According to the newspaper, ‘Sha’th, who has concluded a tour to Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Germany, Britain, and Ireland, added: Israel is taking the battle in all seriousness. To Israel, if it gains the battle, this means the halt of the recognition of the Palestinian state.’
The newspaper added that Sha’th also pointed out that ‘Israel’s membership in the United Nations has been based on two conditions which have not been implemented yet.’
Sha’th also said: ‘We can go to the International Court of Justice, demanding that Israel’s membership be invalidated, if Israel does not implement both conditions.
‘These conditions are about the implementation of the partition resolution that gives us 44 percents of the land of Palestine, and the implementation of the 194 resolution regarding the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland.
‘Therefore, the United States may use veto at the UN Security Council.’
According to the newspaper, Sha’th also stressed that the Palestinians will continue their diplomatic move ‘which should be a popular move on the ground and an international move, on top of which is obtaining the world recognition of an independent Palestinian state, and seeking to achieve full membership at the United Nations.’
Sha’th added: ‘The only worry is that some people abroad, as well as some people inside the Palestinian territories, as it seems, still think that our turning to the United Nations is not sure.
‘They also think that we may retract our move at any time, and the Americans may pressure us.’
Sha’th also stressed to the Palestinian people and all Palestinian communities throughout the world that the Palestinian side is ‘serious’ about this diplomatic move, which is ‘not a tactical’ move.