The Fatah Revolutionary Council concluded its fifth convention in Ramallah over
the weekend by declaring its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish
The council also urged the Palestinian Authority leadership to
work toward foiling a new Israeli law requiring a referendum before any
withdrawal from Jerusalem and the Golan Heights that has not been passed by two
thirds of the Knesset.
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The Palestinians are opposed to any understandings
between Israel and the US that could harm their interests, the council
“The council affirms its rejection of the so-called Jewish state or
any other formula that could achieve this goal,” said a statement issued by the
“The council also renews its refusal for the establishment of
any racist state based on religion in accordance with international law and
human rights conventions.”
The council made its statement as Israel
awaits a document from the US which would set out an incentives package in
exchange for a 90-day freeze on new settlement construction based on the terms
of the 10- month moratorium on such activity which expired on September
The Palestinians have insisted that Israel must halt all settlement
activity before direct negotiations can be resumed.
An Israeli government
official on Saturday night called on the Palestinians to resume direct
negotiations without any preconditions.
“Let us meet and talk,” he
The official said he was disappointed by the council’s statement
with respect to a Jewish state.
“I would ask the Palestinians the
following question: If the Jewish state is fundamentally illegitimate in your
eyes, what sort of peace are you offering us? “It is clear that their refusal to
recognize the Jewish state’s legitimacy is the true obstacle to peace and
reconciliation,” the official added.
In its statement Saturday, the Fatah
council said it was categorically opposed to proposals for a land swap between
Israel and the Palestinians under the pretext that “illegal settler gangs can’t
be put on an equal footing with the owners of the lands and
Israel has long assumed that any final status agreement would
include land swaps.
The Fatah leaders said they supported PA President
Mahmoud Abbas’s policies, especially with regard to the peace process with
“The council salutes President Mahmoud Abbas for adhering to the
basic rights, first and foremost the right of return for Palestinian refugees,”
the statement said. “Also, the council salutes President Abbas for standing up
against pressure aimed at resuming the peace talks without achieving the demands
of the Palestinians.”
The council dismissed plans to supply Israel with
weapons in return for reviving the stalled peace talks. It added that the
Palestinians would not accept any understandings between Israel and the US which
could “harm Palestinian rights and prolong occupation.”
The reported US
package of incentives to Israel does not serve the cause of peace, the Fatah
“Such gifts to the occupier will only make the
occupier more stubborn and radical.”
Referring to the new Israeli law
regarding Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the council said it was in violation
of international law and urged the PA leadership to make efforts through the UN
and the Security Council to thwart it.
Abbas told Fatah leaders during
the three-day gathering that the Palestinians want a just and comprehensive peace, but would not compromise on their rights.
ruled out the possibility of returning to the negotiating table without a full
cessation of construction in settlements and east Jerusalem.
sessions, the council also reiterated its opposition to the idea of creating a
Palestinian state with temporary borders. A PA official said there was no change
its position on this issue.
“The PA leadership dismisses the idea of a
state with temporary borders, the official said.
“We insist that the
issue of borders and security be the first to be discussed when the negotiations
The official’s statements follow statements by several Israeli
politicians who recently came out in favor of creating a Palestinian state with
temporary borders in an effort to prevent a diplomatic vacuum and give the
Palestinians the responsibility that a state would provide.
leadership candidate Shaul Mofaz unveiled a plan a year ago in which Israel
would annex settlement blocs while withdrawing from 60 percent of the West Bank,
comprising Areas A and B, where 99.2 of the Palestinians live, and additional
land to create a contiguous Palestinian state. Intensive negotiations would then
begin on final borders.
Mofaz said that he has met with senior
Palestinian, American and European officials who have privately endorsed his
President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have also
expressed support for the idea of creating a Palestinian state with temporary
Journalist Yair Lapid, who is expected to run for the next
Knesset, wrote in his Yediot Aharonot column last week that Israel should forget
about trying to achieve peace and instead focus on creating a Palestinian state
as soon as possible.
“The time has come to separate the question of
establishing a Palestinian state from the question of peace,” Lapid
“Israel must work toward the establishment of a Palestinian state
not because it would bring peace, but rather because it would be much easier to
manage the conflict vis-a-vis such a state.”
He predicted that the
establishment of a Palestinian state would “take the world off our backs, curb
the process of turning us into a pariah state, enable us to maintain our
security with fewer restraints, lift the burden of controlling three million
people, and enable us to manage the discussion on our final borders and the
future of the settlements.”