PA: Obama will be responsible for failure of peace

Dozens of Palestinians protest in Ramallah, heeding officials' instructions to hold anti-Obama demonstrations in West Bank.

By
September 23, 2011 01:07
US President Obama with PA President Abbas

US President Obama with PA President Abbas 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

US President Barack Obama will be held responsible for the failure of the Middle East peace process, members of the Palestinian Authority delegation to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York charged on Thursday.

The latest allegation came as the PA called for anti-Obama demonstrations in protest against his opposition to the Palestinian statehood bid.

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Relations between the PA and the US were now “at their lowest” because of Obama’s opposition to President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to submit a request for full membership of a Palestinian state to the UN Security Council on Friday, the officials said.

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Thursday night that if the US goes through with its threat to veto the statehood bid, Congress decides to cut American aid to the Palestinian and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz carries out his threat to withhold the transfer of tax moneys to the PA, the PA will decide to dissolve itself, making Israel the sole entity responsible for the Palestinians, Israel Radio reported.

Erekat said Israel should prepare for such an eventuality following the vote at the UN on Friday.

The Israel Police on Thursday evening was bracing for the possibility of violent clashes on Friday ahead of the speech by Abbas at the United Nations.



Roughly 22,000 officers have been mobilized by the police’s Operations Branch, which has placed the force on Special Alert Level 3C – one alert level before the highest.

“We will have special preparations on the Temple Mount and around Jerusalem for Friday prayers. And then we will go on special alert again for 7 p.m., when Abbas is expected to speak,” a source from the Operations Branch told The Jerusalem Post.

“Since these are two waves of preparations, we needed to mobilize this number of officers,” the source said. “This does not mean we are in a problematic situation, but we are on a high state of alert.”

All leave for regular police officers has already been canceled for the month of September.

The heightened alert will last until Saturday morning.

Extra police will also be present around the security barrier, checkpoints leading to the West Bank, and mixed Arab- Jewish cities around Israel.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino will hold an evaluation meeting on Friday morning, and then tour Jerusalem’s Old City and near its security barrier.

This week, police held a major drill to test riot-response capabilities ahead of the planned Palestinian statehood recognition bid at the UN.

The number of specially trained riot police has gone up by around 50 percent over the past couple of years, from 5,000 to 7,400, with an additional 1,500 officers on standby.

The riot officers are assigned to 16 command-and-control centers across the country.

Additionally, 200,000 liters of “Skunk” liquid, which produces a foul smell and has been proven as an effective, yet harmless, crowd dispersal means, are available.

Police also have 16 Venom type long-range multiple gas canister launchers, and speaker systems that emit unbearable sounds.

Israel was also bracing for the possibility of violence erupting from Gaza. Following Obama’s statements that clarified that the US would veto any Security Council decision, Hamas called for Friday to be a “Day of Rage,” even though it was critical of the PA’s turn to the UN in the first place.

Despite the US opposition, Abbas was “determined” to submit the application to the UN on Friday, Erekat said.

Until Obama delivered his speech at the UN on Wednesday, Abbas and his aides were still hoping that the US administration would change its position regarding the statehood bid.

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But Obama’s speech, which some PA officials described as “pro-Israel” and “biased,” came as a shock to Abbas, according to one of his aides.

“President Abbas didn’t expect Obama to fully endorse the policies of the Israeli government,” the aide told The Jerusalem Post.

“We can even say that President Abbas was very angry and disappointed by the speech.”

Abbas’s disappointment grew even more when he met late on Wednesday with Obama on the sidelines of the UN convention, only to hear from the US president once again a clear threat to veto the statehood bid in the Security Council.

Following the tense meeting, a PA official joked: “Obama has obviously joined the Zionist movement.”

MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), who is accompanying the PA delegation, condemned Obama’s position as “immoral.”

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official, accused the US administration of applying “double standards” in dealing with the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The PA leadership instructed Palestinians in the West Bank to stage demonstrations on Thursday to denounce the US president and his policies.

PA civil servants and school children were ordered to hold rallies and demonstrations “in solidarity with President Abbas and to condemn Obama’s bias in favor of Israel.”

Bassam Abu Sharif, a former adviser to Yasser Arafat, called for a nonviolent intifada against Obama, whom he accused of being supportive of the “Israeli expansionist project in Palestine.”

Tawfik Tirawi, a former PA security commander in the West Bank, said that when he listened to Obama on Wednesday, he thought he was listening to a speech by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“President Obama has broken all the promises he made in the past,” Tirawi, a member of the Fatah central committee, said. “Obama’s policies are in violation of the values and principles for which the US stands – liberty and democracy.”

Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh accused Obama of “forging history” by serving as an advocate for Israel.

Qawassmeh said Obama was depicting Israel as the victim, “in contradiction with moral values and democracy of the American people.”


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