Palestinians divided over Arab unrest’s impact on peace

Shaath says peace talks are self-deception; “At this stage, the Palestinians should resort to popular struggle against Israeli occupation.”

nabil shaath 311 (photo credit: BLOOMBERG)
nabil shaath 311
(photo credit: BLOOMBERG)
The Palestinian Authority believes that regime change in the Arab world will strengthen regional support for the Palestinian cause, PA negotiator Nabil Shaath said on Tuesday.
Some Palestinian officials, however, expressed fear that the events in Egypt would hurt the Palestinians because of Cairo’s preoccupation with domestic affairs.
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“The weakness of the Arab position was one of the reasons behind the imbalance between Palestine and Israel,” Shaath said, at the same time ruling out the possibility that the PA would return to the negotiating table with Israel under the current circumstances.
“Going to any negotiations at this phase would be tantamount to self-deception,” he said. “At this stage, the Palestinians should resort to a popular struggle against Israeli occupation.”
He added that the Palestinians should also continue their efforts in the international arena to achieve their goals.
The Palestinians should also focus on ending the Fatah-Hamas dispute and building state institutions, Shaath said.
“The revolution in the Arab world will help us achieve national unity, and we will continue to urge Hamas [to act to this end] again and again,” he said.
Referring to reports that he may visit the Gaza Strip soon for talks with Hamas leaders on forming a Palestinian unity government, Shaath said he would go there only after he receives a phone call [from Hamas] agreeing to the idea.
He also warned that holding presidential and legislative elections in the West Bank alone would only solidify the split with the Gaza Strip.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared recently that he intends to hold the elections by September. However, Hamas has said it would boycott the vote and not allow it to take place in the Strip.
PA officials said it would be impossible to hold elections without Gaza.
Some have advised Abbas to call off the elections until an agreement is reached with Hamas.
Nabil Amr, a senior Fatah official and a former PA minister, said he expected the Palestinians to “suffer” because of the recent events in Egypt.
“For the next few months, Egypt won’t be playing any role and the new leadership there will be busy with internal affairs,” he said. “Our people must draw the conclusions from what happened in Egypt and move toward ending divisions in the Palestinian arena.”
Amr said that the Palestinians should be united in order to launch a “revolution against Israeli occupation.”
Another top Fatah official, Othman Abu Gharbiyeh, also predicted that the Palestinians would be affected by the developments in Egypt. He noted that the Egyptians had played a role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and were also involved in attempts to end the Fatah-Hamas crisis.