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PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Abbas not deterred by U.S. threats regarding Palestinian state recognition

July 27, 2011 | 11:06 am

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, does not seem deterred by U.S. threats of financial cuts or political castigation if he proceeds with plans to ask the U.N. for recognition of a Palestinian state in September.

Abbas Wednesday summoned his Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council, a 120-strong legislative body in exile, to ask its blessings for his plans.

He complained that he had tried every avenue possible to resume negotiations, stressing that negotiations was his first and foremost option for resolving the decades old Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But when everything failed, he was left with no other choice but to go to the U.N.

“We tried, at U.S. persistence, to relaunch negotiations on Sept. 2 [in Washington] but we were not successful. Then we went to Sharm el-Sheik [in Egypt] and to West Jerusalem, but again we did not succeed. The reason was always because [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] did not want to discuss anything other than security,” Abbas said.

“Then the quartet [of U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia] tried to find common ground for negotiations. It worked hard, succeeding at times and failing at others, until its last meeting when it discussed some ideas, which were not accepted.”

He said, “We could not relaunch negotiations and the quartet said it was not able to bridge the gap between the two sides. We had expected the quartet to issue a declaration on the 1967 borders, but it did not. Now, there is no time. Our choice now is to go to the U.N. because it is overdue.”

He was referring to the 1947 U.N. Resolution 181, which partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

“When Israel was created [in 1948], it was done on the condition that a Palestinian state would also be created. But that did not happen,” he said.

He said that a specialized Arab League committee is going to meet in Qatar on Aug. 4 to lay down the process for asking the U.N. Security Council and its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to endorse a Palestinian request to accept Palestine, within the pre-Israeli June 4, 1967, occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip border, as full member of the U.N. body.

Abbas knows, however, that the U.S., which strongly opposes this Palestinian move, is going to veto the resolution when it comes up at the Security Council, even though he said that he had not yet heard the official U.S. position on this matter.

He tried, though, to reassure the U.S. that going to the U.N. is not an alternative to negotiations, neither a unilateral act, nor an attempt to delegitimize or alienate Israel.

“Going to the U.N. is not an alternative to negotiations,” he told his PLO body. “We will still be ready to resume negotiations even after we go to the U.N. We do not want to have any confrontation over this with the U.S. It is our friend, but it cannot tell us what we should do.”

“This is not a unilateral act, either,” he said, explaining that 122 member states of the U.N. have already recognized the Palestinian state, which means that the Palestinians are not alone in this matter. “We are going to the U.N. to complain to its 193 member states, and this is not a unilateral act.”

“What is unilateral is Israel’s stealing our land and then selling it,” Abbas lashed out at Israel. “What is unilateral is when Israeli generals take our land in the Jordan Valley and start businesses to make profit then claim that they do it for security reasons. This is a big lie.”

“We do not want to delegitimize or alienate Israel. We only want to alienate its occupation policy, but not Israel as a state and we do not want to delegitimize it. We want to live next to it in peace, security and stability,” he said.

-- Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank

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