311_ Abed Rabbo, Abbas and Erekat.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The Palestinians expressed anger over the weekend with the Obama administration for failing to persuade Israel to renew a moratorium on settlement construction.
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They said it was unacceptable that the only superpower in the world would declare its failure to put pressure on its major ally – Israel.
The Palestinians also said they would continue to stick to UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which calls for the return of Palestinian refugees to their original homes inside Israel, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official and adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, declared.
Abed Rabbo’s declaration came on the 62nd anniversary of the resolution, which was passed on December 11, 1948.
Article 11 states that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible.”
Abed Rabbo said that the anniversary of the resolution came at a time when the issue of the “right of return” remains at the top of the Palestinian leadership’s list of priorities “in spite of all Israeli attempts to marginalize it.”
He said that the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 also affirmed that this resolution would be an integral part of any peace agreement.
Commenting on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech over the weekend on the Middle East peace process, Abed Rabbo said she did not bring anything new. “This is a repeat of previous American positions,” he said.
He accused the US administration of avoiding playing an effective role by holding Israel and the Palestinians equally responsible for the current stalemate.
Abed Rabbo added that the Palestinian leadership was studying all “alternatives” to determine its strategy for dealing with the next phase.
Without the help of the US and without pressure to “end the occupation,” the peace process would continue to evolve in a vicious cycle, he said.
The peace talks wouldn’t be serious unless there was a clear US position that stated that the purpose of the negotiations was to end occupation completely and establish an independent Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967 borders, Abed Rabbo said.
Tayseer Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, also played down Clinton’s speech at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington. “This is an old-new speech,” he said. “She has already sold on more than one occasion such merchandise.”
Khaled accused the US administration of being “biased in favor of the Israeli government’s settlement policy.”
He also criticized Washington for voicing opposition to Palestinian
plans to seek recognition of the UN Security Council for an independent
Hafez Barghouti, editor of the PA’s Al- Hayat al-Jadida newspaper, also
accused Clinton of trying to sell the Palestinians “old merchandise.”
He said that instead of admitting failure, the Obama administration was
trying to create the false impression that it was pushing the peace
process forward. “Instead of admitting its failure to force Israel to
stop its settlement activities, Washington is sending [Middle East
envoy] George Mitchell again to the region to sell us old merchandise –
proximity or indirect talks,” Barghouti said.
“The time has come for us to stop surrendering to American deception.
The Americans are colluding with Israel’s settlement policy, which will
inevitably lead to bloodshed and war.”
Adel Abdel Rahman, a columnist affiliated with the PA, said that no
ordinary person could accept the claim that the US was unable to
convince the Israeli government to stop building in the settlements.
“The US administration does hold powerful cards that allow it to impact
decision- makers in Israel,” he said. “The new American position is
disrespectful and inconsiderate toward Palestinian and Arab interests.”