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Monday, November 12, 2012

Mahmoud Abbas tells President Barack Obama he'll seek Palestinian UN upgrade, defying U.S - Hamas: No Compromises With Israel on Anything, Ever

Source: Reuters

By Noah Browning and Matt Spetalnick

(Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told President Barack Obama on Sunday he was intent on pressing ahead with a Palestinian bid for United Nations recognition as a non-member state, despite the U.S. leader's objections.

Abbas explained his decision to Obama in a phone conversation, according to Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdaineh. Continued defiance of Washington on such a sensitive issue casts further doubt on the chances for any renewed U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinian peace drive following Obama's re-election on Tuesday.

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority on Wednesday circulated a draft resolution to U.N. member states that calls for upgrading its U.N. status to that of observer state, despite objections by the United States and Israel.

"President Abbas cited the reasons and motives for the Palestinian decision to seek non-member statehood as continued Israeli settlement activity and the continued attacks on Palestinians and their property," Abu Rdaineh said.

The White House said Obama, responding to a message from Abbas congratulating him on his re-election, used the call to reiterate "opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations."

The Palestinians are currently considered an observer "entity" at the United Nations.

Frustrated that their bid for full U.N. membership last year failed amid U.S. opposition in the U.N. Security Council, Palestinians have launched a watered-down bid for recognition as a non-member state, similar to the Vatican's U.N. status.

The proposal, which could be put to a vote in the General Assembly later this month, would implicitly recognize Palestinian statehood and could also grant access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where they could file complaints against Israel.

The upgrade seems certain to win approval in any vote in the 193-nation General Assembly, which is composed mostly of post-colonial states historically sympathetic to the Palestinians.

Palestinian diplomats also are courting European countries to further burnish their case.

Israel and the United States say Palestinian statehood must be achieved by negotiation and have called on Abbas to return to peace talks that collapsed in 2010 over Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

"In his discussion with President Abbas, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace and his strong support for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the objective of two states living side by side in peace and security," the White House said.

Obama pledged to make Middle East peacemaking a top priority when he took office in 2008 but on-again-off-again U.S. diplomacy yielded no tangible progress.

With Washington focused on the West's nuclear standoff with Iran and seeking to avert any unilateral Israeli attack on its nuclear sites, the White House has shown no real appetite for any immediate new Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

NETANYAHU SPOKE TO OBAMA EARLIER

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had strained relations with Obama and now faces a January 22 general election in Israel, spoke to the U.S. president by phone on Thursday and congratulated him on his re-election.

This comes after amid a flare-up of violence in the region. Israel said it was poised to escalate attacks on the Gaza Strip on Sunday following a surge of rocket and mortar salvoes by Hamas and other Palestinian factions.

The Palestinians seek to establish a state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip - which is controlled by the Islamist Hamas group who are bitter rivals of the Palestinian Authority - and want East Jerusalem as its capital.

Abbas has billed the U.N. move as a last-ditch attempt to advance long-stalled talks to achieve statehood by first having the world recognize Palestine as a state under Israeli occupation and its borders.

But U.S. officials have warned that the U.N. bid is counterproductive and will make it harder for the two sides to agree to renewed negotiations.

On Saturday, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz threatened to stop collecting tax revenues for the Palestinian Authority and not hand over any money if Abbas continued to seek U.N. observer state membership.

The aid-dependent Palestinian economy in the West Bank faces financial crisis due to a drop in aid from Western backers and wealthy Gulf states, as well as Israeli restrictions on trade. (Additional reporting By Ali Sawafta; Editing by Stephen Powell and Eric Walsh)
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Hamas: No Compromises With Israel on Anything, Ever


Source: Arutz Sheva
By David Lev

In response to statements by Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas that he would not demand the “right of return” for PA Arabs to the homes that their grandparents and great-grandparents abandoned in the State of Israel – statements Abbas later reneged on – Hamas has issued its own document on the matter. Even if the PA as a matter of policy were to agree not to demand that nearly all the Jews of Israel be thrown out of their homes to accommodate the descendants of “refugees,” Hamas said it wold never agree to such a plan – and any concessions Israel makes in return for the removal of the “right of return” from PA demands would be irrelevant, as far as the Gaza terror group was concerned.

In an interview with Channel Two, Abbas said last week that he was “a Palestinian refugee from Tzefat. I would like to visit there but I don't want to live there. All we want is to establish an independent Palestinian state in the areas Israel occupied in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

The statement raised a firestorm in Arab media for its implied concession on the “right of return,” the demand that PA Arabs be allowed to return to the homes and land their ancestors abandoned in 1948, when the State was established. Abbas later backtracked, saying that the statement was a “personal point of view,” but that he had never intended to give the impression that he was compromising on demands that the descendants of refugees have the right to evict Jews from their homes in Israel and take them over.

The Hamas statement said that “the territory of Palestine is 27,027 square kilometers,” an area that takes into account the entire Land of Israel, including the State within the 1948 armistice lines, and the lands Israel liberated in the 1967 Six Day War. “No one has a right to compromise on any part of Palestinian territory, which is part of the great Arab homeland, and whose liberation is an obligation of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, and the forces of liberalism in the world.”
The statement adds that the descendants of Arabs who left the State in 1948 “have the right to return to their original homes in Palestine without any conditions, and they also have the right to compensation for their suffering and stolen property. No one has the right to surrender any of these rights, to compromise them, or to conduct negotiations on them.” In addition, the statement says that Jerusalem is wholly Muslim, and no compromise on the its status as a Muslim city is possible, either.

Finally, says the statement, “The Zionist enemy in Palestine is the only enemy of the Palestinian people, and struggling against it using any and every means is a national obligation, until the last inch of Palestine is freed.”

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 And the ultimate plan is...