PA expresses disappointment in Obama speech

Sha’ath says plan to ask UN to recognize state in September will continue, despite Obama's rejection of bid.

mahmoud abbas_311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
mahmoud abbas_311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Ramallah on Saturday with US Consul-General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubenstein to discuss US President Barack Obama’s latest Middle East speech.
The meeting came as PA negotiator Nabil Sha’ath announced that the PA leadership would pursue efforts to ask the United Nations in September to recognize a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines in spite of Obama’s opposition to such a move.
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A PA official in Ramallah refused to give details about the meeting between Abbas and Rubenstein.
Abbas has instructed PA officials to refrain from commenting directly on Obama’s speech pending an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership and consultations with a number of Arab leaders.
Abbas’s official spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s position toward Obama’s address showed that the Israeli government was not interested in making peace.
Abu Rudaineh also dismissed US and Israeli opposition to the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation accord between Fatah and Hamas, saying this was an internal Palestinian affair.
Sources in Ramallah said the PA leadership was “deeply disappointed” with Obama’s opposition to the PA bid to unilaterally seek recognition of a state in September.
The PA leadership is also worried about Obama’s apparent opposition to the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation pact.
“Although the speech of President Obama included many positive elements as far as the Palestinians were concerned, there are also many negative points,” the sources told The Jerusalem Post.
“There’s also a lot of disappointment with Obama because he did not mention Jerusalem or call for an end to settlement construction.”
Despite Abbas’s ban, Sha’ath was quoted over the weekend as saying that Netanyahu’s rejection of Obama’s address strengthened Palestinian resolve to step up efforts to seek UN recognition.
“We will pursue and escalate our diplomatic efforts to achieve recognition of a state and we won’t stop,” he stressed. “President Obama did not say that he was going to use the veto against us.
Nor did he say that he would vote against us [at the UN].”
Sha’ath said that Netanyahu’s statements in Washington proved that he has no intention to reach a solution.
“Netanyahu wants to keep military presence in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, annex settlement blocs and Jerusalem and does not want the refugees to return,” Sha’ath said. “Then he says, ‘Let’s talk about peace.’ What peace does he want?” He said the most positive element in Obama’s speech was his talk about a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with land swaps. “But Netanyahu has destroyed everything with his statements,” he charged.
Sha’ath too rejected American and Israeli opposition to the formation of a unity government between Fatah and Hamas, saying no one has the right to interfere in the Palestinians’ internal affairs.
PLO Executive Committee member Saeb Erekat said Abbas was planning to visit Jordan and other Arab countries for consultations with Arab leaders on the repercussions of Obama’s address.
He said that following the tour Abbas would convene an emergency meeting of PLO and Fatah leaders to discuss the PA’s future steps in wake of Obama’s speech and Netanyahu’s position.
Also Saturday, Abbas received a letter from Egypt’s ruling military council concerning the latest developments in light of Obama’s speech. The letter was delivered to Abbas by the Egyptian envoy to Ramallah, Yasser Othman.
PA newspaper editors and political analysts, meanwhile, launched a scathing attack on Obama.
Hafez Barghouti, editor of the Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda daily, said that Obama was no different from Arab dictators.
“He’s talking as if he’s God and above everyone,” Barghouti said. “It’s as if he has appointed himself as father of the revolutions against tyrants.”
Barghouti added that Obama did not bring anything new in his speech about a Palestinian state.
Instead, Obama has inherited the policy of his predecessor, George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was more serious than Hillary Clinton, he said.
“Obama has endorsed Israel’s position regarding the peace talks,” he said.