Abbas: Statehood bid isn’t aimed at delegitimizing Israel

Sha’ath expects 140 countries to support GA vote on Palestinian state; Abbas says PA ready to hear any proposal to restart peace talks.

By
September 4, 2011 22:29
PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations

Abbas 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

 
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The Palestinian Authority is prepared to listen to any proposals that would lead to the resumption of peace talks with Israel, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah late Sunday.

Abbas reiterated his position that the peace talks should be based on a full cessation of construction in the settlements and acceptance of the pre-1967 lines as the borders of a Palestinian state. He also said that the talks should have a clear and acceptable timetable.

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He said that the PA’s statehood bid was not aimed at isolating or delegitimizing Israel.

“The goal is to delegitimize occupation which must end,” he explained. “The Palestinians are the only people in the world who have remained under occupation.”

Abbas added that the Palestinians have “knocked on all doors seeking the resumption of the peace talks, which is our first, second and third option.”

He said that the PA has told the world to offer a third option other than the negotiations and the statehood bid, but has not received a reply.

“Whatever we achieve at the UN, we will return to the negotiations to solve the final-status issues and the case of the prisoners [in Israeli jails],” he said.



Abbas said that the PA application to the UN calls for transforming the Palestinian territories from the status of disputed lands to a state under occupation.

“Going to the UN does not mean ending the occupation,” he cautioned the Fatah operatives.

“This is a prelude to ending occupation and achieving independence and sovereignty.

Going to the UN does not mean the end of the PLO. It’s the PLO that will submit the application to the UN for recognition of a Palestinian state.

“The PLO will remain the protector of the rights of the Palestinians until the establishment of a Palestinian state and the complete end of occupation.”

Urging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to read his lips and count 1-9-6-7, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the key to ending the conflict between them was Israeli acceptance of this former border as the basis of a two-state solution.

He counted each number out slowly, as he spoke with reporters by a Beduin Palestinian school outside of Jericho, where he participated in a ceremony to mark the opening day of the school year.

“Once he says the numbers 1-9-6-7, in Hebrew, Chinese, Russian, Italian, he can choose any language to say two states on the 67 [line] and [that Netanyahu] will stop settlements.

Then he will have negotiations,” Erekat said. “I do not see him capable of uttering [the words] two states on [the] ’67 [lines].

“If he thinks that negotiations can be an objective by themselves we know the difference between a non-negotiator and a tough negotiator,” he said. “Netanyahu better prepare himself either to become responsible as an occupier power from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean or to live in peace and security in a twostate solution. The choice is his,” Erekat said.

Earlier on Sunday the negotiator denied that the Palestinians had received new US proposals to resume peace talks with Israel. He said that the PA was pursuing contacts with the US administration on the issue of the statehood bid.

The Quartet’s special envoy Tony Blair is also scheduled to meet with Abbas on Tuesday in Ramallah to discuss the issue, he said.

At the Beduin school Erekat clarified that the Palestinians plan to head to the UN this month to seek membership for a state located within the pre- 1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital, he said.

There are five benefits from such a declaration at this point, he said.

First, given that Palestine would then be a UN member state under occupation by another UN member state, Israel, the Fourth Geneva Convention could be clearly applied to the West Bank, he said.

“No Israeli official could claim that the land was disputed,” he said.

Second, he said, it would set the terms for future negotiations with Israel at the pre- 1967 lines, so that further talks would be about the sequence of the gradual withdrawal to those lines.

Third, “Our right of determination should be exercised by us and should not be kept hostage in the hands of our Israeli occupiers.”

Fourth, he said, it will allow Palestine to become a member of UN organizations, in particular the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

“And yes, Israel should be held accountable,” he said.

Finally, he said, nation states at the UN would have responsibilities toward a “sister member state under occupation.”

Although the US has said that it would veto any UN membership move by the Palestinians at the Security Council, the Palestinians have said they plan to move forward anyway. Security Council approval is an essential part of the UN membership process.

Separately, Palestinians have contemplated as an alternative a request to the General Assembly, where they have majority support, to upgrade their status from that of an observer state.

Such a move would give them de-facto statehood, and would increase their ability to both join UN organizations and become a party to treaties.

Erekat called on the US and Europe to support Palestinian efforts at the UN.

Israel has warned that such unilateral steps would harm the peace process, particularly because it could give the Palestinians added leverage to pursue Israel legally under international law.

But Erekat said that the turn to the UN was necessary to preserve a two-state solution.

“We are going out there [to the UN] to preserve the peace process,” said Erekat, in the face of an Israeli government that has done everything it can to torpedo any hope of a two state solution.

He added that the Palestinians have accepted the presence of the State of Israel living side by side with a Palestinian state as long as it was on the pre- 1967 border.

“We do not have a partner in Israel,” he said. “If we were to have a partner in Israel then Israel should be the first country to vote for the state of Palestine,” he said.

At least 140 countries are expected to vote in favor of a Palestinian state at the UN on September 23, Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the Fatah central committee, said on Sunday.

He said that Palestinian Authority officials were continuing their efforts to persuade more countries to support the statehood bid.

At a press conference in Ramallah, Sha’ath, a former PA foreign minister, said that Abbas would soon brief Fatah and PLO leaders on the ongoing efforts to secure the support of as many countries as possible for the statehood plan.

Sha’ath pointed out that 125 countries have so far promised to back the statehood bid at the UN.

“We want Palestine to become the 194th member of the UN,” he said.

He also voiced hope that the EU countries would support the PA’s application for full membership in the UN.

EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton is scheduled to return to the region in the coming days for additional talks on the Palestinian statehood plan, Sha’ath disclosed.

He said that Ashton would inform the Palestinian leadership of the EU’s final stance regarding the statehood bid.

Expressing fear that the US would foil the PA’s plan at the UN, Sha’ath said that the PA leadership was determined to go ahead with its initiative.

“We won’t succumb to any pressure because our people are determined to achieve freedom and independence,” he stressed.

According to Sha’ath, after the vote at the UN, the PA would work toward establishing a national unity government with Hamas and holding presidential and parliamentary elections.

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