Tag Archives: Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian statehood bid fails at UN Security Council as US, Australia vote against

The UN Security Council has failed to adopt the Arab coalition’s bid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to Israeli “occupation”. The veto power US and Australia voted against the move with 5 abstentions.The draft resolution gathered only 8 votes in favour, so it was automatically defeated. The US however still used its veto power and voted against the resolution. Another veto power state, the UK, along with Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and Rwanda have abstained from the vote.

“This resolution sets the stage for more division, not for compromise,” said US Ambassador Samantha Power, calling the draft a “staged confrontation.”

“The United kingdom supports much of the content of the draft resolution. It is therefore with deep regret that we abstained from it,” said UK ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant. “We are disappointed that the normal and necessary negotiation did not take place on this occasion.”

However, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said that Moscow “cannot share the objections of those who believe that the draft resolution was undermining the prospects of the negotiating process.”

“Unfortunately last year revealed how this process has gone into a blind alley, with its monopolization by the United States and their pullback from the Quartet [US, EU, UN and Russia]. We believe this to be a strategic mistake,” said Churkin.

“This draft reflects just demands of Arab states, including the Palestinian people, and is in accord with the relevant UN resolutions, the ‘land for peace’ principle, the Arab peace initiative and middle-Eastern peace roadmap. And is also in accord with China’s consistent position. We express deep regret over the failure of the draft resolution to be adopted,” said Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Israeli authorities said they are “satisfied” with the failure of the Palestinian statehood bid at UN Security Council.

An official bid for statehood was submitted to the Council Tuesday by a Jordan-led Arab coalition. The bid featured a revised draft resolution of a similar proposal submitted earlier this month. Delegates voted on the measure Tuesday afternoon.

Highly opposed by the US and Israel, the first version of the draft resolution was submitted “in blue” to the UN Security Council last Wednesday. The Council includes five permanent members who hold veto power and ten additional members who serve two-year terms.

The resolution gives 12 months for a “just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it regards as the creation of a “sovereign and viable” Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the occupied territory by 2017.

Its text had already seen several amendments that concern East Jerusalem as capital of the future state of Palestine, Israeli settlement building, and Palestinian refugees’ right of return, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Abu Yousef told Asharq Al-Awsatnewspaper.

According to the current draft, Jerusalem is regarded as the capital of both Israel and Palestine, but the role of East Jerusalem in a future Palestinian state is not specified. “International legitimacy is our ceiling on this issue, and we cannot drop below this ceiling,” Yousef told the paper.

“I think there is very little doubt that any resolution in the Security Council that actually created a Palestinian state or called for real statehood would be vetoed,” US activist and journalist Phyllis Bennis told RT. “I think there is a big question whether the drafts that are now circulating actually do that. The French amendments in particular significantly weaken the idea that this is something that would actually create the Palestinian state.”

Bennis explained that “there is no consequence named. The resolution is not taken under either Chapter 6 or Chapter 7, which are the coercive chapters of the UN charter.” These chapters imply the use of military force and putting pressure against the state, such as sanctions.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday his administration would“no longer deal”with Israel in case of the resolution’s failure. “If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted to the Security Council to put an end to [Israeli] occupation doesn’t pass, we will be forced to take the necessary political and legal decisions,”the Algerian APS news agency quoted Abbas as saying.

Last Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called a UN bid for Palestinian statehood an “act of aggression.”

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is adopting measures whose sole aim is to attack Israel, with no benefit for the Palestinians,” Lieberman said in a statement.

This summer, tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank escalated, leading to the 50-day conflict between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians. Operation Protective Edge claimed over 2,200 lives – most of them Gaza civilians.

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Hamas’s war is ultimately with Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his inauguration ceremonies at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, on June 8, 2014

The humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, which ran until 3 p.m. Thursday, ended abruptly. The two sides went back to fighting each other. Hamas fired rockets all over Israel, and Israel tried to strike the organization’s infrastructure, hitting Palestinian civilians along the way. Then, on Thursday night came the ground offensive — part two of Operation Protective Edge, as the IDF Spokesman put it. An Israeli delegation had returned from Cairo Thursday morning, where they tried unsuccessfully to reach a ceasefire. According to Egyptian media reports, the delegations from the two sides stayed in the same hotel in Cairo, as Egyptian mediators ran between them trying to bring about a truce

Hamas’s demands in the Cairo talks make it increasingly clear why the organization went to war. Hamas, it seems, initiated an escalation with Israel when its target was really Egypt. Hamas may be aiming its missiles at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but Israel was ultimately a hostage in the Islamists’ effort to get closer to Cairo.

Hamas wants this in order to bring an end to the blockade on Gaza, open the Rafah Border Crossing, and in many ways to ensure its own survival.

On Tuesday morning, many people in Israel raised an eyebrow at Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian ceasefire. But if we examine the crisis from the prism of Egypt-Hamas relations, we can see things differently.

Cairo offered the organization the same language it rejected from the outset: quiet for quiet. But for Hamas, the big problem was the way the Egyptian ceasefire was presented: At the same time that Razi Hamid, Hamas representative in Gaza, received the Egyptian document, the initiative was already being published in the Egyptian media.

This was a humiliation for Hamas, since no one thought to consult with its leadership. And still, as even senior Hamas officials admit, there is no other mediator in the region. Just like real estate agents who have a monopoly on a certain area, Egypt has a monopoly on Israel-Hamas relations.

Cairo might have no patience for the Palestinian group, treat it like an enemy for its deep connection with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and want to humiliate it, but Egypt’s own regional standing is no less important. Cairo does not want to see the involvement of any other regional actor, not Turkey and certainly not Qatar. (Egypt sees the al-Jazeera channel, which is so critical of the el-Sissi regime, as the long arm of the Qatari royal family and the semi-official mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood.)

The bottom line is that the key to solving the current escalation was — and remains — in Egypt’s hands, not in those of any other Arab or international party. Hamas demanded the opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza from almost the first minute of the operation. Egypt rejected the idea immediately, as long as Hamas stands on the Palestinian side of the crossing. But Cairo has emphasized that, if there are Palestinian Authority forces under Mahmoud Abbas deployed there, it has no objection to opening the crossing.

Hamas security forces stand guard at the closed gate of the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, May 2013.

And that is how the idea got rolling. The PA adopted it warmly, since it puts back Abbas at the center of things in Gaza. Israel didn’t reject it, primarily because it trusts Egyptian security oversight at Rafah. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni even held a series of consultations on the matter. And it seems as if, both in Ramallah and Jerusalem, the understanding was that Egypt would offer the opening of Rafah as part of the ceasefire package.

But Egypt didn’t play the proposal entirely right. It first offered quiet for quiet — perhaps in order to push Hamas into the corner, perhaps to keep another arrow in the quiver in ceasefire negotiations, perhaps both. Only after Hamas said no, and came out looking like a warmonger, did Abbas arrive in Cairo in order to come across as the one who proposed the idea that would save Gaza from both Hamas and Israel. A smart move.

The question remains, however, what will happen until the crossing is opened. Placing PA forces in Rafah, along the border and at the crossing, is not the work of a few hours. Abbas and Egypt made the offer to Hamas on Wednesday to first and foremost stop the firing, and then to talk about the opening of Rafah. Evidently the heads of the Hamas military wing were not prepared to do that.

In addition, Hamas has consistently presented other demands, such as the release of prisoners originally freed in the Gilad Shalit deal and re-arrested after the murder of the three Israeli teens last month, to which Israel does not agree at the moment.

And so, on Thursday evening, the possibility of a ceasefire grew dimmer and dimmer, and the ground option that Netanyahu so feared suddenly became the reality.

Who remembers now that some foreign media outlet reported a ceasefire would take effect on Friday morning at 6 a.m.?

The Times of Israel


Hamas or Israel? Netanyahu says Palestinian Authority must choose

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas must choose either peace with Israel or an alliance with Hamas, but he cannot have both, Israel’s PM has said. His comments come after the Palestinian Authority restarted talks on a unity government with Hamas.

During a meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said if the Palestinian Authority united with Hamas it would bring an end to the US-sponsored peace talks.

“Instead of moving into peace with Israel, he’s moving into peace with Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “He has to choose: Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace; so far he hasn’t done so.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman echoed Netanyahu’s sentiments and said signing an agreement with Hamas was equivalent to “signing the termination of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Furthermore Netanyahu said that the Authority continues to demand “additional conditions,” knowing that Israel cannot accept them. On Tuesday, President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated the conditions that Israel needs to fulfill for the continuation of peace talks.

He called for the establishment of borders between Israel and Palestine, the release of a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners and a halt to the construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority has been pushing for these conditions since the restart in negotiations with Israel following a three-year hiatus last July.

Abbas also threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, forcing Israel to take on the burden of governing the region, if bilateral talks fail.

“If the negotiations stop, it’s the Israeli government that will bear the responsibility for the economic situation and the paying of the salaries of (Palestinian) employees, workers and farmers, for health and for education just as it did before the establishment of the Authority,” he told reporters Tuesday.

The Palestinian Authority revived talks with Hamas on Tuesday and agreed to form a government of national unity within the “next few weeks,” Palestinian officials told AFP.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority now face an April 29 deadline to resolve their differences and make headway with bilateral talks before Washington withdraws its support.

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Abbas applies to 15 UN bodies in pursuit of further recognition for Palestine

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that the Palestinians are immediately applying for admittance to 15 UN agencies and conventions after Israel failed to release a fourth batch of prisoners in March.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) leader held an emergency meeting in Ramallah late Tuesday, where he signed a document to join 15 UN agencies and international organizations in a televised ceremony.

Abbas said he made the decision after Israel delayed a fourth release of Palestinian prisoners, which had been scheduled for March 29.

“We have nothing against American efforts,” he said, stressing that Israel is procrastinating.

“There was a commitment to a fourth prisoner release by March 29, since then there have been various promises but no results. This despite our leadership’s agreement to refrain from going to the UN for nine months, all in order to secure the release of prisoners,” he said.

Abbas stated that if the prisoners are not released, he will commit the Palestinian Authority to joining 63 international institutions, adding that he has the unanimous backing of the PA leadership.

The move could derail faltering US-mediated peace talks with Israel.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to fly to Ramallah for talks to try and extend the three-way negotiations until 2015. However, a US official has said the trip will no longer be taking place.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed last July. In turn, Abbas said he would suspend attempts to join UN agencies, while Israel promised to release 104 Palestinian prisoners in four groups.

Israel has not yet commented on the matter, but it views the move by Abbas as an attempt to avoid further peace talks.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry was close to a deal aimed at rescuing the faltering talks. His formula involved the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in return for freeing hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel.

The deal would also have involved a commitment from Israel to show “great restraint” in the occupied West Bank from building further settlements, but would not have included a complete freeze on settlement building.

The US has been pushing hard to keep the negotiations afloat past the end of the April deadline. The inclusion of Pollard in the deal has been viewed as surprising and a reflection of American desperation to keep the talks moving forward.

Pollard was arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment in the US for spying for Israel. He is up for parole in November 2015.

The Palestinians have given a cool response to the US proposals, saying they need a complete halt to settlement construction and that 1,000 prisoners of their own choosing must be freed.

The prisoner release is a difficult political step for Israel, with far-right coalition partners angry at the idea of freeing terrorists who have committed lethal attacks.

But in Palestine, freeing inmates helps increase support for Abbas from popular Islamist groups who are opposed to negotiating with Israel.

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Egypt’s Pres Mansour calls on Arab leaders to fight terrorism, extremism and illiteracy

President Adly Mansour

In his speech Tuesday at the Arab League summit in Kuwait, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour called on his Arab counterparts to join in the fight against terrorism.

Terrorism is “threatening the whole region,” said Mansour, but he insisted that terrorist groups would only make their opponents “more determined to uproot them.”

Mansour urged those attending the summit to reactivate the Arab Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, an anti-terrorism pact signed in 1998 by 18 out of 22 members of the Arab League, but which has never been enforced.

Mansour suggested that a meeting be held before June with Arab justice ministers and interior ministers to gauge how much of the pact is currently being implemented.

The pact stipulates that signatories must not give shelter to terrorists, Mansour noted, which means that Arab states must hand over persons for whom Egypt has issued arrest warrants.

Many leaders of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood have used Qatar as a refuge from an ongoing security crackdown on its members by Egyptian authorities.

On 14 March, two Brotherhood leaders were arrested by INTERPOL in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – both strong backers of Egypt’s interim authorities and adamant critics of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

During his 29-minute speech, Mansour dwelled mostly on terrorism. However, he also spoke of the Syrian and Palestinian conflicts – key points of this year’s summit.

“We are exerting efforts to mediate between different opposition forces in Syria in order to reach a unified vision towards a political solution,” the only kind of solution which will end the Syrian conflict, Mansour said.

Mansour further affirmed that the Palestinian conflict remains one of the main challenges to the region, expressing his full support to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and for the need to end the Israeli occupation and return to the pre-1967 Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital.

He also slammed Israeli’s assault on the Gaza Strip, calling on “human rights defenders to play their role in lifting the misery from Palestinians in Gaza.”

Beyond these conflicts, Mansour also highlighted two other problems in the region: illiteracy and extremism.

The next 10 years should be dedicated to eradicating illiteracy from the region, Mansour proposed, with the first step being a meeting in the next two months between Arab education ministers for the purpose of implementing an agenda.

As for extremism, Mansour suggested that Arab countries adopt a unified strategy to confront “extremist ideology.”

Stressing that terrorism cannot be faced with just security solutions, Mansour offered that a meeting be held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina to host intellectuals and experts to develop a framework to defy extremist thinking.

Egypt has been rocked by a wave of militant attacks on police and army targets since Morsi’s ouster on 3 July, sparked by a subsequent crackdown on his supporters.

Bombings and shootings in the volatile Sinai Peninsula, and more recently in Cairo and the Nile Delta, have killed tens of security personnel.

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Arab League supports idea of forming international committee to investigate details of Arafat’s death

MIDEAST PALESTINIANSThe League of Arab States (LAS) called for the formation of an international committee to investigate the details of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

At an extraordinary meeting of the LAS Council on Saturday the foreign ministers of the LAS states supported an idea, which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had voiced to form a committee that will conduct an independent investigation of Arafat’s death under the aegis of the United Nations Organisation.

Yasser Arafat died on November 11, 2004 at the age of 75 at the military hospital Percy in a neighbourhood of Paris. According to the official theory of French doctors, the Palestinian leader died of massive hemorrhagic stroke.

However, later the media have reported that Arafat could have been poisoned with radioactive polonium. Arafat’s remains, which are buried at a mausoleum in Ramallah, were exhumed at the demand of his widow a year ago. About 60 samples were taken. The samples were distributed between Swiss, French and Russian investigative groups.

Swiss specialists from the Institute of Radiophysics in Lausanne have found radioactive polonium-210 in Arafat’s remains. According to their reports, the dose of the radioactive agent exceeds the normal level by at least 18 times.

However, a theory of French experts differed completely from the conclusions of the Swiss committee. The French specialists have rejected a theory of poisoning with polonium, stating that the tests had pointed to a theory that the death had natural reasons.

‘US security plan included IDF troops on West Bank highway’ | The Times of Israel

The Palestinian negotiating team rejected an American peace plan which would involve Israeli military presence along the Jordan Valley highway, located five kilometers (three miles) from the Jordanian border, after the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

Contrary to earlier reports, the proposed final-status arrangement would see IDF control of a broad corridor in the Jordan Valley — not just a minimal stationing of Israeli soldiers along the border — for the first 10 years after the signing of a peace deal, Channel 10 News reported Tuesday.

According to the TV report, the plan formulated by retired US general John Allen and presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a recent visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry, ensured a more significant Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley than previously reported. Earlier reports suggested that Allen’s plan stationed IDF troops on the Jordanian border, but Channel 10 cited “sources knowledgeable with the negotiations” saying it entailed an IDF presence along Route 90, the major north-south artery five kilometers west of the frontier.

Last week, the Palestinians said they rejected any proposal that didn’t entail the removal of all IDF soldiers from a future Palestinian state.

A senior Palestinian official was quoted saying that after Kerry pitched the proposal, the meeting between the Secretary of State and Abbas turned to “worse than bad.”

The presence of Israeli soldiers in the Jordan valley in a final agreement is a point of contention between Netanyahu and his chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

According to a September report in Israeli daily Maariv, Livni supports the introduction of international forces to the Jordan Valley, similar to the expanded role UNIFIL received in southern Lebanon under Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and which Livni was appointed by the government to oversee.

Netanyahu, however, adamantly opposes international forces, insisting on an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley even within the framework of a Palestinian state.

The prime minister recently ordered the government to begin construction on a major upgrade of the existing security fence along the Jordanian border, including the section of the border inside the West Bank.

Abbas, who vehemently rejects Netanyahu’s demands, had reportedly turned down Kerry’s offer, and said that Israeli presence in the Jordanian Valley would undermine the sovereignty of a future Palestinian state.

Concerned that a final status agreement may not be possible by the May target date the two sides accepted when they resumed talks in August, Kerry’s recent visit was aimed at pushing forward a framework accord that would contain the principles of a comprehensive pact, but not specific details.

If an outline were achieved, the negotiations could be extended beyond the nine-month timeline originally set by Kerry.

US officials, who spoke to Associated Press reporters aboard Kerry’s plane on condition of anonymity, stressed that an agreement on all issues by May is the US’s number one goal for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

But, should that prove unworkable, they said a framework agreement would buy time for additional negotiations.

A framework accord, the officials said, would be a “logical step” on the path to a final status agreement.

‘US security plan included IDF troops on West Bank highway’ | The Times of Israel.