Defy US Threats Over Palestinian State!

Youth march in support of a Palestinian state in London
Youth march in support of a Palestinian state in London

MEMBERS of Palestine’s original communist party are urging the Palestinian National Authority to withstand intimidation from the US over a plan to seek recognition of statehood at the UN in September.

The head of the Palestine People’s Party, Bassam As-Salhi, says a threat by American lawmakers to suspend aid is simply the latest example of US willingness to provide diplomatic cover for Israel at the UN.

‘All of these stances affirm the conspiracy of the United States’ cover for Israel and backing for its continued occupation, allowing Israel to escape the implementation of UN decisions,’ he said.

The US House of Representatives on Thursday 7 July warned the Palestinians that they risk cuts in US aid if they pursue UN recognition of a future state not defined in direct talks with Israel. In an overwhelming 406-6 vote, lawmakers backed a symbolic resolution sending a stern message to the Palestinians one week after the US Senate unanimously approved a similar measure.

The US bill also urged President Barack Obama to consider suspending aid to the Palestinian National Authority pending a view of a unity deal between President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah faction and Gaza rulers Hamas.

The PPP chief says the escalating hostility from Washington proves the US unconditionally backs ‘Israeli extremism,’ and it is for this precise reason that the Palestinians have no choice but to turn to the UN. American policy ‘confirms day after day that the US-brokered peace process was killed by its total bias towards Israel,’ he said.

‘The US stance against the Palestinians seeking UN recognition is offensive towards Palestinians and their rights on the one hand and against the UN and its bodies on the other.’

He said the peace process should be administered by the UN rather than the US. Peace talks ground to a halt in September 2010 when Israel failed to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Since then, the Palestinians have refused to return to talks as long as Israel builds on land they want for a future state.

They are planning to seek recognition of their state within the 1967 lines that preceded the Six-Day War when the UN General Assembly meets in September, despite the opposition of both Israel and the United States.

Reflecting on the warnings from Israel, PPP official Walid Al-Awad said Israel was making strenuous efforts to tempt the Palestinians against turning to the UN, and he urged the PNA not to fall for empty promises.

A successful outcome ‘will provide the Palestinians with an opportunity to demand that the UN implement its conventions on our case as a state under occupation,’ Al-Awad said, adding that the ‘blackmail’ being used against the Palestinian National Authority highlights how important it is that the government keep moving towards recognition at the UN.

‘Israel is living amid a state of confusion now that it has realized the danger,’ Al-Awad said. The Palestinians ‘will carry out intensive diplomatic movement in the coming days to gain recognition from more countries.’

A delegation will soon visit China to ask for its support for the bid, he added. Several countries, including France, have indicated that they might recognize an independent Palestinian state if peace talks are not back on track by September. Germany, like the United States, is opposed to any unilateral steps and accepts the Israeli position that any progress must be made through negotiations.

• Member of the Hamas Movement Political Bureau Muhammad Nasr has held President Mahmud Abbas responsible for blocking the formation of a Palestinian unity government.

Nasr said: ‘Abbas insists on nomination of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to head a government during the transitional period at a time when we, in Hamas, reject this nomination. We asserted to the Fatah Movement delegation that we veto the nomination of Fayyad.’

Nasr said that Hamas proposed many names during the dialogue sessions that were held with the Fatah Movement in Cairo. He noted: ‘We did not insist on a particular name.’

He said economist Munib al-Masri is among the candidates that Hamas proposed as a moderate and acceptable figure who has wide international contacts and good relations with various forces. He denounced Abbas’s insistence on Fayyad even though the Palestinian arena is rich with Palestinian figures who are qualified to fill this post.

Nasr expressed surprise at that stand, especially because the Fatah Movement does not want Fayyad either. He said: ‘This is what we concluded and sensed during talks with Fatah.’

Nasr said that – at his talks with the Fatah delegation leader Azzam al-Ahmad, during which they agreed on the expected meeting between the Palestinian president and Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khalid Mish’al in Cairo – he asked Al-Ahmad if Fatah insists on Fayyad as its sole candidate to fill the post of head of government and Al-Ahmad replied that the Fatah Movement has other figures and that Fayyad is not the only candidate. He noted that this means they are open to naming any candidate other than Fayyad.

Nasr added: ‘However, it seems that Abbas sees only Fayyad and insists on him, even though Fatah does not insist on him.’ He called on the Fatah Movement to ‘deal with the government issue transparently and clearly in view of its extreme importance as key to reconciliation’.

Noting that all issues are linked to the resolution of the government issue, he said: ‘The government is the party that will run the transitional phase and oversee all issues to follow the completion of the reconciliation process until elections have been held. Also, the government is the party that will create a favourable climate prior to holding these elections.’

He warned that any delay in resolving the government issue will have a negative effect on all these issues that are related to the efforts to achieve reconciliation on the ground.

Asked if the Fatah Movement intends to postpone the government issue until after September to ensure that the PNA’s September bid at the United Nations will not be blocked, Nasr replied: ‘The brothers in Fatah did not discuss this point with us.’ He said that they should make an announcement if they have such an intention.

He added: ‘The ball is in the Fatah Movement’s court. We are awaiting the brothers in the Fatah Movement to fulfil their obligations towards reconciliation, instead of maintaining the current stagnation in the reconciliation efforts that is caused by their unclear stand towards the government issue.’

Nasr dismissed reports on the existence of Turkish efforts to organize a meeting between the Fatah and Hamas movements and noted that Egypt is sponsoring the reconciliation efforts. He said the Turkish side only sought to explore the movement’s stands on the government issue.

Nasr explained: ‘The Turks contacted us before Abu-Mazin’s visit to Ankara and asked us about our stand on the government issue, which is still outstanding. We explained to them our clear and well-known stand and said we look for a compromise figure to head the government and that we reject a specific figure to be imposed on us.’

He added: ‘We are open and have no problem with any other candidates.’