Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey.
(photo credit: REUTERS/OSMAN ORSAL)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the Likud central committee’s vote on annexing settlements in the West Bank, calling on the international community to take action against it.
On Sunday, the Likud central committee, the top decision-making body in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, unanimously voted in favor of a resolution calling on elected Likud officials “to work to allow unhindered construction and to extend Israeli law and sovereignty in all the areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria.”
While the resolution is not binding on Likud lawmakers, it does carry weight as Likud Knesset members need the backing of central committee members to succeed in party primaries.
“His excellency [Abbas] called on the international community to take immediate action to stop this aggression that the members of the extremist government coalition are leading against Palestinian rights and international resolutions,” the official PA news outlet Wafa reported.
Most of the international community considers the settlements illegal under international law, a position Israel disputes.
Abbas also asserted that the Likud body would not have conducted the vote on annexing settlements if it did not have “the absolute backing of the American administration that has refused to condemn Israeli colonial settlements.”
In stark contrast to US president Barack Obama’s administration, the Trump administration has largely stayed mum on Israeli settlement-building.
The PA president also vowed that the Palestinians will go to international courts and join international organizations “to protect our people’s rights and hold Israel accountable... for its grave and systematic violations of international law.”
Last Thursday, the Palestinians submitted application forms to join 22 different international organizations and agreements.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum also panned the Likud central committee’s vote, describing it as a part of “a policy of aggression against Palestinian rights.”
“This will make us hold more tightly on to our people’s rights and the option of resistance to confront and abort these projects,” Barhoum said in a statement.
Also, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s envoy to the US, Husam Zomlot, will return to Washington next week, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said, after PA President Mahmoud Abbas recalled the top Palestinian diplomat in the American capital.
On Sunday night, official PA media reported that Maliki recalled Zomlot for consultations, without elaborating, but subsequently deleted the report from its websites.
Later on Sunday, the official PA news agency Wafa issued a new report that said Abbas ordered Zomlot to come to Ramallah to consult about “what happened at the UN General Assembly and future steps that will be taken.”
On December 21, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that rejected US President Donald Trump’s changes to American policy on Jerusalem.
In early December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated a process to relocate the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, breaking with decades of American policy. Nonetheless, the US president said the final status of Jerusalem would be up to Israel and the Palestinians to decide.
Zomlot posted on his Facebook page that he met with Abbas “for hours” and received orders to return to “the battlefield in Washington.”
Responding to Trump’s moves on Jerusalem, Abbas has said the Palestinians will no longer work with the US as an interlocutor in the peace process between themselves and Israel.
“We do not want America... after these decisions we will not accept them... as long as they act like this we do not want them,” he told the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in a speech in mid-December.
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