'Israel dragging PA to slaughterhouse over Iran'

Senior Fatah official Nabil Sha'ath says Netanyahu using Iran to distract Israelis, international community from Palestinian issue, compares PM "fear-mongering" to former US president Bush's push for war in Iraq.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
August 16, 2012 19:56
2 minute read.
Senior Fatah member Nabil Shaath

Senior Fatah member Nabil Shaath_390. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is using Iran as a way to distract both Israelis and the world at large from the Palestinian issue, Nabeel Sha’ath, the Fatah Commissioner for International Affairs, said on Thursday.

Sha’ath compared the prime minister’s fear-mongering to former president George W.

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Bush’s insistence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the American invasion of Iraq.

“We’re afraid that a so-called preventive attack on Iran might also destroy us,” Sha’ath said. “We are being dragged by the people of Israel to a slaughterhouse that is not of our choice.”

Sha’ath made the comments during a meeting with Meretz activists at the Mukata Compound in Ramallah organized by Jerusalem City Councillor Meir Margalit, who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio. He also spoke at length about his optimism for a two-state solution and faith that UN recognition will help the Palestinians achieve some of their goals in the negotiation process.

Sha’ath told The Jerusalem Post that he shared some of the Israelis’ concern, but not their paranoia. “I am worried about any country developing weapons that may be used against my country or against my neighborhood,” he said.

“But honestly, I’m worried about your atomic bomb, and Dimona [nuclear reactor] sending nuclear dirt that kills my people,” Sha’ath said. “Why should I be less concerned about an Israeli bomb? The Israeli bomb is a reality. The Iranian bomb is a potentiality.”

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Deputy Mayor Pepe Alalu (Meretz) challenged Sha’ath to encourage east Jerusalem Arabs to vote in municipal elections. Most east Jerusalem Arabs are considered residents, not citizens, which means they can vote in local elections but not national ones. However, for ideological reasons, east Jerusalem Arabs boycott the elections rather than take part in an Israeli democratic process.

Sha’ath said that although east Jerusalem is “in dire need of attention,” he will continue to encourage Arabs not to vote in local elections because of the political and ideological implications. Sha’ath said that that advancing east Jerusalem’s agenda should be the responsibility of the peace camp and Meretz in particular.

Alalu told the Post that he wants Sha’ath and the PA to reconsider this position because east Jerusalem needs representation in city hall if they want to make serious changes to their communities.

“If they want to get better, they need to be organized, politically organized,” said Alalu. “They need it. The economic and employment and infrastructure situation is unacceptable, like the third world... and it won’t change unless they take things into their own hands,” he said.

Alalu estimated that since Arabs make up about 37 percent of Jerusalem’s population there could eventually be nine Arab city council members and the sector would have a large influence on the mayoral race.”

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