Fatah to up promotion of 'unarmed resistance'

Fatah official Shtayyeh says Palestinians must increase "cost of the occupation" to enhance prospects of Israeli withdrawal.

Celebrating Abbas's return from the UN in Ramallah 370 (R) (photo credit: Mohamad Torokman / Reuters)
Celebrating Abbas's return from the UN in Ramallah 370 (R)
(photo credit: Mohamad Torokman / Reuters)
Muhammad Shtayyeh, a former Palestinian Authority minister and a top Fatah official, declared over the weekend that the PA leadership would step up its encouragement of “popular, unarmed resistance” against Israel while pursuing its commitment to achieve peace.
His declaration came amid growing talk that the Palestinians were close to launching a third intifada.
“Without increasing the cost of the occupation to the Israelis, they will not be in a position to withdraw,” the former PA public works and housing minister told guests at a Christmas dinner in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. “The Israeli occupation has to be costly, otherwise we will not see much change on the ground.”
Shtayyeh, who previously served as member of the PA negotiating team with Israel, said that Fatah was headed toward ending its dispute with Hamas.
“We are going into the direction of reconciliation. For the first time, I myself, I feel hopeful that this is going to be possible,” he said. “The general mood of the public is positive.
The people in Gaza feel that they have won something, that they won the battle of Gaza [last month]. And the general mood of the public in the West Bank is also rising because of the vote at the United Nations [General Assembly on November 29]. Each side feels that he won the battle that he wanted to, and these two rising moods are capable of making a compromise.”
Shtayyeh dismissed Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s triumphal speech in Gaza City on December 8 that envisioned a Palestine “from the river to the sea” as the final words of a man “leaving the political scene.”
“I don’t take what he said very seriously, it was the euphoria,” Shtayyeh said. “I take what Mashaal said seriously when he was calm, when he was sitting down in a chair and engaging in political dialogue with Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas].”
According to Shtayyeh, Mashaal said three important things during his recent meeting with Abbas. “He [Mashaal] is ready for a two-state solution; he is ready for peaceful resistance; and he is ready for the continuation of negotiations if they prove to be fruitful,” Shtayyeh said.
Shtayyeh criticized the US administration for failing to get involved in the Middle East peace process. He predicted zero progress “if the American president is not going to be engaged again.”
He said that there was “nobody there in Washington to offer anything. [Former US envoy Senator George] Mitchell has resigned and he has not been replaced. [State Department official] Jeff Feltman is now working for [UN Secretary-General] Ban Kimoon.
[Former US Middle East envoy] Dennis Ross has resigned and has not been replaced. There is nobody there working on the file.”
Shtayyeh also lashed out at the Mideast Quartet and its representative, former British prime minister Tony Blair.
“The Quartet has been useless, useless, useless. The Quartet has been useless,” he repeated. “I don’t really think that Ban Ki-moon should be a member of the Quartet. The UN should never be in such a forum.”