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PA hopes Obama visit will bring new US policy
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
02/06/2013
Rudaineh to 'Post:' PA expects Obama to pressure Israel to stop building settlements, pave way for restarting peace talks.
 
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday welcomed US President Barack Obama’s plan to visit the region next month and expressed hope that it will mark the beginning of a new US policy toward the Israeli- Arab conflict.

However, PA officials said it was still unclear whether Obama would meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

 

The officials said that the meeting could take place in Jericho or Bethlehem for “security reasons.” Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for Abbas, said that the Palestinians hope the visit will eventually lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Muhammad Shtayyeh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that the peace process would not move forward unless Obama was personally involved in the negotiations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to visit Ramallah in the coming weeks to prepare for Obama’s visit, the PA officials said.

“Obama needs to understand that the ball remains in the Israeli court,” one official told The Jerusalem Post. “We expect Obama to exert pressure on the Israeli government to stop building in the settlements, including east Jerusalem, and release Palestinian prisoners in order to pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, also welcomed Obama’s planned visit.

“We welcome President Obama’s visit, if it signals an American promise to become an honest and impartial peace broker,” she said. “The US can play this positive role by engaging in an effective and constructive manner, rather than by repeating the same policy of negotiations for their own sake.”

Ashrawi said that such an engagement “requires decisive curbs on Israeli violations and unilateral measures, particularly settlement activity and the annexation of Jerusalem, as well as its siege and fragmentation policies. It also requires the implementation of all prior agreements and a clear commitment to international law, human rights and multilateral participation.”

“Any initiative must have defined objectives and a binding time frame. This must happen before Israel succeeds in finally destroying the two-state solution and hence the chances of peace,” she continued.

Ashrawi added: “Maintaining Israel’s impunity and sense of exceptionalism, while denying the Palestinian people’s rights to sovereignty, freedom and dignity, has been lethal to any meaningful pursuit of a viable and just peace. We therefore expect that this visit will rectify the failures of the past, demonstrate a newfound political will, and lead to urgent, substantive and serious action that will bring the Israeli occupation of the state of Palestine to an end.”
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