PA calls to step up ‘popular resistance’ in response to US announcement

‘Pompeo’s announcement emboldens the radicals.’

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: OSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS)
(photo credit: OSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority called on Palestinians to step up “popular resistance” in response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that Israeli towns over the Green Line are not inconsistent with international law.
Palestinian political analysts, meanwhile, warned that the announcement could lead to an eruption of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians are convinced that Pompeo’s announcement was in response to the recent European Court of Justice decision to label settlement products, and to help Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his effort to form a right-wing coalition.
They also believe that the announcement came in response to the recent UN vote in favor of extending the mandate of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) – a move that was opposed only by the US and Israel.
The PA decided on Tuesday to launch a diplomatic campaign to urge the international community to condemn and reject the announcement and other decisions taken by US President Donald Trump’s administration over the past two years, including moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and halting US funding to UNRWA.
“The PA calls on the Palestinian masses to move to foil the [US] conspiratorial scheme,” said a statement released by the Palestinian leadership after an emergency meeting in Ramallah. It called for “strengthening the Palestinian internal front and stepping up popular resistance to confront attempts by the American administration to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”
Pompeo’s announcement drew strong condemnations from the PA leadership and all Palestinian factions, who accused the Trump administration of violating international law and UN resolutions by declaring that the settlements are not illegal. They also accused the Trump administration of “burying the two-state solution” and “destroying any chances of a peace process” with Israel.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who chaired the emergency meeting in Ramallah, instructed Palestinian envoys to urge all governments to condemn the US position.
The PA government is also scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the repercussions of the announcement.
PA officials in Ramallah said that they were not surprised by the announcement, noting that it came in the context of the Trump administration’s “total bias” in favor of Israel and after a series of “anti-Palestinian” decisions it had taken over the past two years.
The officials said that leaders of various Palestinian factions will also meet in the coming days to discuss ways of responding to Pompeo’s announcement. The faction leaders will call for stepping up protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the officials added.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the PA leadership decided to appeal to the UN Security Council and General Assembly, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – which consists of 57 member states – to take “fateful decisions to safeguard the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” according to the PA’s official news agency, Wafa.
In addition, the Palestinians will also appeal to the International Criminal Court to demand that it take “a powerful and clear position regarding the US decisions on Jerusalem and settlements,” the agency said.
The PA leadership also called for devising mechanisms for the implementation of 2016 UN Resolution 2334, which states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity.”
PA envoy to the UN Riad Mansour announced that he has launched consultations with members of the Security Council to rally support for Palestinian opposition to Pompeo’s announcement. Mansour said he has sent letters to the UN secretary-general and other bodies of the international agency condemning the “illegal” US announcement.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said that Abbas has also called for an urgent meeting of the Arab League to discuss the repercussions of the announcement.
“This is a dangerous announcement,” Erekat said. “It came in response to the European Court of Justice’s decision to label settlement products. It also came as a preemptive measure to stop the International Criminal Court from launching an investigation into Israel’s settlement activity.”
Pompeo’s announcement, Erekat argued, won’t change the reality regarding the “illegal status” of the settlements.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said that Pompeo’s announcement “has no legal validity.” The US, she added, “neither has the right nor agency to rewrite international law and deface the rules-based international order based on its perverse ideological leanings.”
The announcement “reaffirms Palestine’s assessment that the Trump administration is a threat to international peace and security because it is a partner in Israeli crimes and provides political cover for its pervasive violations,” Ashrawi charged. “This administration is a threat the international community must confront with consistency and moral clarity.”
Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said that the US announcement proves that the US “is more extreme in its positions than the right-wing in Israel.”
The US, he said, is “no longer qualified to play any role in the Middle East peace process.”
Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction said that the Palestinians “won’t bow to Trump’s Zionist administration and its terrorist policy.” The faction called on the UN “to defend international law and affirm its position on settlements as a violation of international law and UN resolutions.”
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas responded to Pompeo’s announcement by calling on the PA to “abandon the path of a political settlement” with Israel. “The US administration is continuing its aggression on the rights of our Palestinian people, their land and holy sites,” Hamas said in a statement.
“Pompeo’s announcement is a severe blow to President Abbas and Palestinians and Arabs who believe in a peace process with Israel,” said a Ramallah-based political analyst. “The Trump administration is emboldening the radicals.”
Another Palestinian political analyst warned that the announcement could lead to an outburst of violent protests.
“The Palestinians feel that they are under attack by the US administration,” he said. “There’s a limit to how much this administration can insult and humiliate the Palestinians and Arabs.”