Haniyeh, Abbas shun PM's speech, parameters for peace

PA president says Netanyahu offered "nothing we can build on" and still plans to seek UN bid; Haniyeh: "We will tear up occupation."

May 25, 2011 18:15
3 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas at the Muqata, Ramallah, Thurs.

mahmoud abbas_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh both slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to the United States Congress.

Abbas said Israel was offering "nothing we can build on" for peace and that without progress he will seek UN recognition of Palestinian statehood in September.

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He told the Palestine Liberation Organization on Wednesday that Netanyahu had "traveled far from peace," dictating solutions before negotiations even begin.

Abbas also had strong criticisms of Netanyahu, telling the opening of a meeting for the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah that the prime minister's speech "traveled far from peace" by dictating solutions before negotiations even begin.

He said he would consult Arab states at the weekend about US President Barack Obama's latest ideas for restarting the peace process and Netanyahu's negative response to them.

"We said in the past and we still say that our choice is negotiation, negotiation and nothing but negotiation. But if nothing happens by September we will go (to the UN to ask for recognition by its 192 member states)," Abbas said. "Our aim is not to isolate [Israel] or to de-legitimise it. It is not an act of terror and not a unilateral act."

Abbas's plan to seek UN recognition was criticized by both Netanyahu and Obama in speeches in Washington last week.

Haniyeh announced Wednesday that "we will tear up the occupation" in response to the Netanyahu's statement that Abbas should "tear up" the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement.

In a speech in Gaza reported on by Ma'an News Agency, Haniyeh said the unity deal "must be implemented honestly and accurately." He also applauded the Nakba Day efforts of regional Arabs to breach Israel's borders and called on protesters to radically increase their numbers next year. "We must face Netanyahu’s remarks by enhancing steadfastness and resistance," Haniyeh said.

In a major policy speech, however, Obama said a future Palestinian state should be based on the borders as they existed on the eve of the 1967 Six Day War, with land swaps mutually agreed with Israel.

Netanyahu swiftly rejected the proposal saying it would leave Israel with "indefensible" borders. But Abbas described the idea as "a foundation with which we can deal positively".

Earlier Wednesday, senior Fatah member Nabil Shaath rejected Netanyahu’s address to Congress and said that Israel's policies won’t lead to peace. Shaath accused Netanyahu of having destroyed any chances for peace, effectively waging war on the diplomatic process to bring about a final settlement.

Speaking to Israel Radio, the Palestinian negotiator said that the Palestinian Authority has decided that the way forward is to "do what Israel did in 1948 and go to the United Nations" in order to "ask for the state promised to us."

Shaath criticized Netanyahu's repeated claim that an Israel on 1967 borders is "indefensible," saying insistence on keeping IDF forces on the border and on the Jordan river and not allowing an Arab authority in Jerusalem continue to damage and progress in peace negotiations.

According to Shaath, negotiations with the Netanyahu government have "no credibility," as the prime minister negotiates while violating Oslo agreements. Shaath was referring to the claim that Israel, even while calling for a halt to settlement construction, has continued to build settlements beyond the Green Line.

The PA negotiator also rejected Netanyahu’s call to cancel the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas. He said that Hamas came to Fatah denouncing violence and seeking peace with Israel, not war.

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