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Palestinian Authority to pursue statehood bid, despite setbacks - Daily News Egypt

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Palestinian Authority to pursue statehood bid, despite setbacks

"We didn't fail; the UN Security Council failed us," says Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (AFP/File photo)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
(AFP/File photo)

Palestinian-Jordanian discussions will be held to resubmit the Palestinian statehood bid once more to the United Nations Security Council, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced Sunday, noting that: “We didn’t fail; the U.N. Security Council failed us.”

Abbas stressed that “we will keep trying” to push the statehood bid, and that Palestinians cling to Jerusalem as a capital for the Palestinian state, noting that Israel should cease the settlement activity in Jerusalem.

The decision came after the Security Council rejected the statehood bid put forth on 30 December. However, several countries with revolving membership were replaced over the new year.

The resolution mainly called for establishing a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, while resuming negotiations for a period of 12 months to find solutions for the conflict, and ending the Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian territories by 2017.

President of the Security Council for the month of December and Chad’s representative Mahamat Zene Cherif said: “In rejecting this draft resolution, the Security Council has once more missed a date with history and has disappointed all of those who are indignant or have been without dignity for many years, without the prospect for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“The rejection of this draft resolution also sends a very negative message of encouraging a continuation of occupation and continuing injustice, oppression and destruction,” noted Cherif.

“Palestinian people once more have been deprived of their legitimate right to live in an independent and sovereign state,” he added.

The resolution was met by eight votes in favour from Russia, China, France, Jordan, Chad, Luxemburg, Argentina and Chile, five abstentions from the UK, Rwanda, Nigeria, Lithuania, and South Korea and two against; Australia and the United States.

The Palestinian Authority hoped to gain as much international support as possible, and was therefore disappointed by the United Kingdom’s abstention. Nine Security Council votes are needed to adopt a resolution, which would then force the United States to use the power of veto.

Responses to the resolution’s rejection varied.

Abbas, not dissuaded, had the plan set to acquire statehood, noting that the Security Council “is not the end”, and that he plans to continue through an appeal to International Criminal Court.

Abbas presented on 2 January documents for the accession of 16 international conventions and treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC will deal with crimes that the occupation has committed against Palestinians while brining commanders before international justice. The crimes include: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crime of aggression.

Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat told Daily News Egypt: “It’s our right to join the ICC. We are a state under occupation and it’s our right to internationalise the issue and defend our people.”

He further noted: “If Israel worries about Palestine joining the ICC, it should stop committing crimes”, adding that “they stand no chance”.

Regarding resuming negotiations with the Israeli side, Erekat said: “Israel left no room for negotiations.”

Israel’s response was however different. The Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman noted that Israel thwarted Palestine’s move at the Security Council.

However, following the PA’s move to the ICC, Israel froze the transfer of Palestinian tax funds amounting to 0.5bn Israeli New Shekel ($127.6m) collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, whereby Gendelman stressed Israel’s “disappointment”, referring to the move as a “flagrant violation of agreements signed by PA with Israel”.

Erekat also referred to Israel’s reaction following Abbas’s decision to join the ICC, stating that Israel halted the transfer of “our money” knowing that Palestinian people need it.

Gendelman pointed out in several media outlets that the Palestinian resolution “circumvents the peace process”, which requires direct negotiations, whereby he claimed that “the Palestinian Authority refuses conducting negotiations with Israeli side”. He added that “without negotiations there will be no State of Palestine”.

Abbas (also referred to as ‘Abu Mazen’) has however reiterated that the PA cannot sit for negotiations without the ceasing of settlement activity, and other crimes, in Palestinian territories.

Palestinian Ambassador in Egypt Gamal Al-Shobky told Daily News Egypt: “The appeal to the International Criminal Court gives us the chance to sue Israel for war crimes practiced on Palestinians.” He added: “We are transferring the battle to the legal side, as Israel’s presence on the Palestinian territories is illegal.”

In reference to incidents that took place on Palestinian territories, including the tensions that reached their peak during summer 2014, resulting in a conflict that lasted for 50 days and left more than 2,200 Palestinian dead, 10,000 others injured and 80,000 houses partially or completely destroyed, affecting the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip leaving it severely damaged. On the Israeli side, 70 were killed.

The conflict was suspended following an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement between both sides.

However, tensions continued in the West Bank and Jerusalem, with repeated Israeli incursions into Al-Aqsa mosque and killings on both sides, in particular following November’s synagogue attack that left five Israelis dead, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order Israeli forces to demolish the homes of the attackers.

The tension was accompanied by a proposal of the Jewish State bill, which hopes to legally enshrine Israel as the homeland for the Jews. The bill proposal was met with refusal from the Palestinian side and was described by the PA as “apartheid”.

Head of Media at the Palestinian Women’s Union in Cairo Wesam Elrayes said that the bill targets Palestinians living in Israel. She said: “To Palestinians it’s a matter of life or death,” and that Palestinians will not allow this law to pass.

The law, which came as one of five other, according to Abbas, “racist laws ”, including the 800 kilometres of “sterile” roads in the West Bank, which Palestinians are not allowed to use. Another law states that public buses are only open to use by the Jewish population, in addition to the enactment of the Israeli settlement law in the West Bank, which states that the lands on which these settlements preside belong to Israel wherever these settlements are built; whether inside Jerusalem or anywhere in the West Bank.

The Jewish State bill and the bill of swearing allegiance to the Jewish State of Israel requires anyone taking part in elections or holding any position in Israeli institutions to swear allegiance to Israel as a Jewish State.

Abbas said that Palestinians accede to the State of Israel; however not to the Jewish State of Israel.

Al-Shobky further noted that the Palestinian efforts to gain “our right to statehood will not stop”. Though there is not a specified time-frame for it, Palestinians’ rights are supported by Arabs as well as European countries, notably Luxembourg and France, both of which voted in favour of Palestinian statehood at the Security Council.

“The plan is still in its early stages,” he said.

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