Abbas attacks Israel, Hamas over PA economic woes

PA president clarifies no date set for UN application; protesters surround PA Prime Minister Fayyad's car, calling on him to resign.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas 390 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas 390 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday reacted to ongoing protests against the high cost of living in the Palestinian territories by attacking Israel and Hamas.
He also said that he would go the UN General Assembly on September 27 “to consult with friends” about upgrading the status of a Palestinian state in the international agency to non-member.
However, Abbas did not say that he would submit a request to the General Assembly in this regard. No date has been set for filing the application to the UN, he clarified.
Abbas’s remarks were made during a press conference he held in Ramallah.
Abbas rejected calls for firing PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
“I’m the first to be held responsible for the situation in the West Bank and Fayyad is part of the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “He should not be held fully responsible.”
Abbas reiterated his determination to renew his statehood bid at the UN later this month.
“We are going to the UN to say that we are a state that is subject to the Fourth Geneva Convention and there are 133 countries that recognize a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” he declared. “Why doesn’t Washington want us to go to the UN?” Abbas accused Hamas of seeking to establish an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip.
He also indirectly criticized Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy for receiving Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Cairo last month.
Those who dealt with Haniyeh as a prime minister were deepening divisions among the Palestinians, the PA president said. “Ismail Haniyeh is not the prime minister,” he said.
There were about 2,000 tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt that had produced 1,000 Palestinian millionaires, he said.
Noting that half of the PA’s budget was going to the Gaza Strip, Abbas held Hamas responsible for the failure of efforts to end the power struggle with his Fatah faction.
He also held Israel responsible for the economic crisis.
The Palestinians, he added, were not free “because we are being surrounded from all directions. The borders are under their [Israel’s] control.”
Israel was hindering efforts to achieve a two-state solution by continuing to build in the settlements and east Jerusalem, he said. “Israel wants to Judaize Jerusalem and all the Palestinian territories,” he charged.
Abbas complained that the Palestinians were unable to exploit 60 percent of their lands because of Israeli restrictions – a reference to Area C of the West Bank that is under Israel’s exclusive control.
He also hinted that the PA might cancel the 1994 Paris Economic Agreement between the PLO and Israel.
Abbas warned that he would take “unthinkable” steps if Israel continued with its current policies, but did not elaborate.
Protests that are sweeping the West Bank would be allowed to continue as long as they were peaceful, he said, but he warned that the PA would not allow the protests to plunge the Palestinian territories into chaos.
Abbas revealed that a man who tried to set himself on fire in Ramallah last week because of the economic situation had actually poured water, and not gasoline, on his body. Abbas said that the man, who claimed that he “had nothing,” had received financial aid from the Palestinians and from Jordan.
The PA president responded to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s campaign against him by declaring: “Liberman is asking me to leave and I will not leave. We will not repeat the mistake we made in 1948 and 1967. We are here to stay in our homeland.”
Nabil Sha’ath, a senior Fatah official, also dismissed calls for the resignation of Fayyad, saying such a move would not help solve the economic crisis.
“Fayyad is not an angel and he may have made mistakes,” Sha’ath said. “But he is not the reason for our poverty and suffering and why we cannot travel to Jerusalem and Gaza.”
Meanwhile, scores of angry protesters surrounded Fayyad’s car in Ramallah, holding him responsible for the crisis and calling on him to resign.
The incident took place outside the studio of a local radio station, where Fayyad had been interviewed about the crisis. PA policemen had to interfere to ensure Fayyad’s safe exit from the studio.
During the interview, the PA prime minister reiterated his readiness to quit if such a move would help solve the crisis.
In response to Abbas’s remarks, Hamas accused the PA president of trying to avoid responsibility for the crisis.
Salah Bardaweel, a top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said Abbas was trying to divert attention from his problems at home by launching an attack on the Islamist movement and others.
Abbas’s accusation reflected his “bankruptcy,” said Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government.