US President Obama with PA President Abbas 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday welcomed US President Barack Obama’s plan
to visit the region next month and expressed hope that it will mark the
beginning of a new US policy toward the Israeli- Arab conflict.
PA officials said it was still unclear whether Obama would meet with PA
President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
The officials said that the meeting
could take place in Jericho or Bethlehem for “security reasons.” Nabil Abu
Rudaineh, spokesman for Abbas, said that the Palestinians hope the visit will
eventually lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Shtayyeh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that the peace process
would not move forward unless Obama was personally involved in the
US Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to visit
Ramallah in the coming weeks to prepare for Obama’s visit, the PA officials
“Obama needs to understand that the ball remains in the Israeli
court,” one official told The Jerusalem Post
. “We expect Obama to exert pressure
on the Israeli government to stop building in the settlements, including east
Jerusalem, and release Palestinian prisoners in order to pave the way for the
resumption of the peace talks.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO
Executive Committee, also welcomed Obama’s planned visit.
President Obama’s visit, if it signals an American promise to become an honest
and impartial peace broker,” she said. “The US can play this positive role by
engaging in an effective and constructive manner, rather than by repeating the
same policy of negotiations for their own sake.”
Ashrawi said that such
an engagement “requires decisive curbs on Israeli violations and unilateral
measures, particularly settlement activity and the annexation of Jerusalem, as
well as its siege and fragmentation policies. It also requires the
implementation of all prior agreements and a clear commitment to international
law, human rights and multilateral participation.”
“Any initiative must
have defined objectives and a binding time frame. This must happen before Israel
succeeds in finally destroying the two-state solution and hence the chances of
peace,” she continued.
Ashrawi added: “Maintaining Israel’s impunity and
sense of exceptionalism, while denying the Palestinian people’s rights to
sovereignty, freedom and dignity, has been lethal to any meaningful pursuit of a
viable and just peace. We therefore expect that this visit will rectify the
failures of the past, demonstrate a newfound political will, and lead to urgent,
substantive and serious action that will bring the Israeli occupation of the
state of Palestine to an end.”