(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that the PA’s plan to ask the United Nations in September to recognize a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines was not designed to isolate or delegitimize Israel.
“We’re going to the UN to address 192 countries and this is not a unilateral move,” Abbas said. “Settlements are a unilateral step.”
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Abbas spoke during an emergency meeting in Ramallah of PLO and Fatah officials to discuss the latest developments in the region in wake of recent statements by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu concerning the peace process.
Abbas said that negotiations remained the Palestinians’ basic option, “but if there’s no progress before September, we will go to the UN.”
Abbas said that Obama’s speech at the State Department last week, in which he talked about the 1967 lines and borders between a Palestinian state and Jordan, Israel and Egypt, could serve as a “positive ground” for negotiations.
The negotiations with Israel, he added, should have a clear deadline and should not be allowed to continue indefinitely.
The talks should cover all final-status issues, Abbas said.
Referring to Netanyahu’s congressional address on Tuesday, Abbas said that the speech was full of “distortions” and “deviations.” Abbas said that there was nothing positive about Netanyahu’s speech because he has “distanced himself from the peace process.”
He reiterated his commitment to the reconciliation accord between his Fatah faction and Hamas and said it must be carried out.
“In Cairo we agreed to form an independent government of technocrats,” he pointed out. “Its task would be to rebuild the Gaza Strip and prepare for elections while the PLO would be in charge of political affairs.”
Following the meeting, the PA leadership issued a statement calling for a defined timetable for carrying out Obama’s vision and international resolutions pertaining to the Middle East crisis before September.
PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo welcomed Obama’s talk about the 1967 lines and said Israel should endorse this position.
Abed Rabbo condemned Netanyahu’s speech before Congress as “provocative” and accused him of “assailing all chances for launching a real peace process.” He warned that the absence of a peace process would drive the Palestinians to consider other options, including going to the UN.
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a top Abbas aide, also condemned Netanyahu’s speech to Congress and said it was harmful to the US.
He expressed outrage at the fact that Netanyahu received more than 25 standing ovations during the speech.
“We believe that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln would never be received in such a way if they were to come back to life,” Abdel Rahim said.
“Congress has caused damage to the US.”
Senior Fatah official Abbas Zaki said a suitable response to Netanyahu’s speech was to stage an uprising similar to those in Egypt and elsewhere in the region.
“We must set fire to the area as they did in Egypt... We must act against the Israeli enemy,” he told Israel Radio on Wednesday.
Responding to Netanyahu’s statement in Washington that Abbas should “tear up” the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced on Wednesday that “we will tear up the occupation.”
In a speech in Gaza reported on by Ma’an News Agency, Haniyeh said the unity deal “must be implemented honestly and accurately.”
He also applauded the Nakba Day efforts of regional Arabs to breach Israel’s borders and called on protesters to radically increase their numbers next year.