PLO to ask UNSC for meeting on settlements

Palestinians working to pass a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity; protests against talks with Israel continue.

PALESTINIAN SECURITY forces clash with protesters 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
PALESTINIAN SECURITY forces clash with protesters 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
RAMALLAH – The PLO will begin working with UN member states on Monday to bring a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity before the Security Council.
Because the PLO does not represent a member state at the UN, it must work through other countries to pass resolutions.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s diplomatic adviser Majdi Khaldi said the consultation with international bodies will start Monday and will incorporate different groups within the Security Council – such as the Arabic group, as well as permanent members.
“Our demand is backed by the international community; we don’t need a grand diplomatic effort,” Khaldi said.
He added that the PA has not prepared a proposal yet “these are technical issues that will be consulted upon.”
PLO Ambassador to the UN Riad Mansour will carry out the bid.
The PLO decided to turn to the Security Council at an urgent Ramallah meeting on Saturday, which discussed Israeli settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the PLO’s Executive Committee, read the committee’s statement after the meeting – with Abbas’s participation.
“The rise in settlement activities in Jerusalem, the confiscation of land and the displacement of citizens from their homes are proof of a dangerous Israeli government plan to undermine the twostate solution, and siege Jerusalem from the rest of the Palestinian lands,” Abed Rabbo said, adding that the present situation on the ground confirms they are entering a very critical phase in the Palestinian national project.
“We’ve complained to the UN Security Council earlier, but Israel has continued its settlement construction ever since – even when the PA is showing goodwill to continue the talks,” Khaldi said.
Palestinians believe settlement activity jeopardizes the two-state solution.
“We are afraid that there won’t be enough land [for us] to live in as two states side by side in peace. We’re doing this both for the Palestinians’ sake and for Israel’s,” he said.
The direct talks between the two sides broke down in September 2010, after Palestinians declared they would only negotiate with Israel if it froze settlement activity. Israel said it wants to resume peace talks without preconditions.
Khaldi said that only a full settlement freeze would halt a Security Council bid.
In February 2011, a resolution cosponsored by over 120 of the UN member states – condemning all Israeli settlements established in occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 and declaring them illegal – failed to pass after the US vetoed it.
The other 14 of the 15 members of the council voted in favor of the resolution which demanded that Israel, as an occupying power, immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and fully respect its legal obligations in this regard.
While the US agreed at that time that settlements are illegitimate, it said the resolution harmed the peace talks.
Some observers think the PA is not using a different path to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“This is the easiest option for the PA,” said Hani Masri, head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian center for policy research Masarat.
Masri told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas is ideologically committed to the negotiations path. “All the other alternatives he’s talking about are just tactics to strengthen his position in future negotiations,” he said.
The political analyst thinks the PA is trying to win more time and betting on US President Barak Obama’s reelection.
“It [PA] thinks that Obama in the second term will put more pressure on Israel... I highly suspect that [it is not true],” he said.
Masri thinks the PA might find itself in confrontation with its people if it stays an authority under occupation without sovereignty. “There isn’t a serious bet on the results of those negotiations, this threatens the credibility of the PA, and might lead to a political suicide,” he said.
Some observers believe the PLO’s settlement bid came after the popular uproar of a planned meeting between Abbas and Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) that had been scheduled for Sunday.
“The meeting has been postponed indefinitely,” a senior Fatah official told the Post. Under the condition of anonymity, he said that the popular pressure against the visit, which has targeted Abbas, was part of the reason why the meeting was canceled.
He also said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s stand on the visit did not allow for it to occur. The Fatah official revealed that the meeting could have taken place if something would come out of it, such as the release of some pre-Oslo detainees.
“Abbas won’t jeopardize his name and lose his street credibility to no avail, and Netanyahu wants Abbas to meet with him and not Mofaz,” he confided.
Palestinians on Saturday protested Mofaz’s planned visit and protested again on Sunday despite its cancellation. Over the weekend, Facebook and Twitter pages were filled with postings rejecting Mofaz’s proposed visit to Ramallah. They also called the previous defense minister, from the era of late president Yasser Arafat’s siege in the Mukataa, a murderer.
Some activists even filed a complaint to the Palestinian attorney-general against Mofaz for being responsible for what they described as war crimes. They posted figures on social media websites including that more than 1,705 Palestinians were killed, 5,312 were detained and the West Bank security barrier was built at the time of Mofaz’s defense leadership.
The campaign also reached Abbas, as some university Fatah leaders felt that receiving a military official who took part in the second intifada was a betrayal to the blood of Palestinian martyrs.
A caricature pictured both the Palestinian and Israeli flags side by side on Arafat’s mausoleum near the Mukataa in Ramallah, saying “What will Arafat do in his grave?” One Palestinian activist commented on the caricature, “Arafat will shiver in his tomb; Mofaz will brag that he came back as a welcomed guest.”
The news of the event’s cancellation did not relax the numerous Palestinian activists who demonstrated on Saturday and Sunday at the Manara Square, a few hundred meters away from the Mukataa.
The activists clashed with Palestinian security forces when they tried to march on the headquarters of the PA. The riot police and plainclothes agents blocked the demonstration from moving forward.
Protesters were chanting slogans against the negotiation process and Mofaz’s visit. Another sign read, “How about we invite Israel to commemorate Nakba with us?” A dozen protesters were injured on the past two days as a result of the aggressive PA crackdown and were taken to the hospital. Several journalists were hit as well.
“On Saturday, we protested the visit, and on Sunday we did the same but we also protested the crackdown on us,” an activist spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Post.
About 300 protesters gathered on Sunday holding signs that criticized the Palestinian police assault on its people. It was a relatively large gathering compared to recent ones against negotiations or those in solidarity with Palestinian hunger-strikers.
Some demonstrators cursed the police and its chief officer, which increased tensions.
On Saturday, Palestinian Security Forces spokesman Adnan Dmairi said they are investigating “alleged” Palestinian police attacks.
Speaking to the Shasha News website, Dmairi said that the official authorities did not know of the rally. Later, he said that the demonstration was not supposed to march towards the presidential headquarters.
From the Ramallah demonstration, an activist from Jerusalem tweeted, “Remember the interview when Abbas said if two people go down the street chanting against me I will leave? Can someone call him out on that?”
Others disagreed. An activist told the Post via phone from the Ramallah governmental health complex that some of her colleagues were injured and denied that they wanted to end the regime.
“We are Palestinians who want to end occupation, and we want the leadership to listen to our demands by ending the security coordination [with Israel], ending the fruitless negotiation path and achieving Palestinian unity,” she said.
Protests will continue over the next few days.