Negotiations are not an option, leading Palestinian Shaath tells Ahram Online

Ahmed Eleiba , Saturday 24 Sep 2011

While the Fatah leadership pushes ahead at the UN, Palestinians remain divided, though a majority believes the UN move has helped expose the real positions of Western states

Abbas
Palestinians watch their President Mahmoud Abbas on TV as he delivers his speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations, in the West Bank city of Hebron, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. (AP: Photo)

The UN is abuzz with the Palestinian request for full membership. Nabil Shaath, member of the Palestinian delegation, said in a telephone interview with Ahram Online that conditions are reassuring and that 142 UN member states said they would vote with the Palestinian camp.

Shaath added that the US assertion that it would use its veto power was expected, and that there is no problem for the Security Council to take its time in issuing a resolution.

As the Palestinians were forging ahead with their initiative, Shaath said “we might tentatively accept the French proposal of observer status in the UN,” but rejected the US president’s urging to return to the negotiating table, asserting that “after two decades of failure, [negotiations] are not an option.”

The domestic Palestinian scene is in discord about the move. Hamas disagrees with the plan, as leading Hamas official Ismail Radwan explained in a telephone interview. Radwan said his group’s position is clear in rejecting the move, because “this is a unilateral step that undermines [our] basic principles and the Palestinian cause. The Palestinians will only achieve a symbolic step that is worthless on the ground, and no recognition for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. It is only a way of avoiding negotiations. We are more interested in maintaining national dialogue rather than taking fruitless leaps.”

Presidential adviser Majdi Al-Khaldi said that President Mahmoud Abbas will brief the Arab Peace Initiative Committee about the contacts being made, as well as recent discussions with European and US officials. “The meeting will also review all the positions that the Palestinian leadership is privy to, as well as the Arab League secretary general, in order to reach a consensus on the next steps to move forward to serve the Arab perspective at the UN, namely requesting full membership for the Palestinian state in the international organisation.”

Discussing the message that the Palestinian president will convey to Arab foreign ministers in the committee meeting, Al-Khaldi said: “The president will reiterate that this is a historic moment and all efforts must come together to end this condition of continued occupation, and the suffering of the Palestinian people for decades.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Arabs approve of the step. “We believe this is the right step since the declaration of Palestinian statehood is the aspiration of every Palestinian and Arab,” asserted Jack Khoury, a political analyst and a Palestinian citizen of Israel. “At the same time, it is a political manoeuvre to unmask the true positions of Western states regarding the Palestinian issue, especially the US which has dealt with the matter harshly and not even diplomatically. As Arabs inside Israel, we believe that statements by US President Barack Obama have eliminated the possibility of a two-state solution. The solution now is moving towards one state, and the Palestinian side had to embark on this plan and not rely on progress by the West.”

Nevertheless, Khoury believes that the move will be in vain. “What will be effective now is to threaten to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, and the US and Israel will be responsible for this development in front of the world community."

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