Shaath: US proposal convinced Abbas to pursue UN bid
Fatah official Nabil Shaath says Obama's proposal, which had no mention of settlement construction moratorium or other Palestinian demands, was 'last straw' that convinced Palestinian president to pursue Security Council vote; claims 'nothing was said or done to make us reconsider our appeal to the international community'
RAMALLAH — A United States proposal aimed at convincing Palestinians to withdraw their statehood bid at the United Nations and return to the negotiations table was the "last straw," and convinced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that appealing to the Security Council was the best option, Fatah official Nabil Shaath told reporters in Ramallah.
According to Shaath, the American proposal, which was delivered at the last minute by US envoys David Hale and Dennis Ross, did not mention a moratorium on settlement construction or the status of existing settlements.
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"All that was written is that demographic changes that had been taking place since 1967 need to be taken into account when demarcating permanent borders.
"But we know that (Prime Minister) Netanyahu doesn’t like the idea of land swap. He wants (to annex the) settlement blocs for free," he said.
'We don't want war with Israel.' Nabil Shaath (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The Fatah official noted that the proposal included many of Israel's demands, including security arrangements, settlements and a solution to the refugee problem – without consulting the Palestinian side on these issues.
"Nothing was said or done to make us reconsider our appeal to the international community," Shaath said.
Abbas left an opening
Despite fruitless talks with Washington and Europe, and Abbas' decisive speech on Friday, Shaath stressed that the Palestinian president left an opening by saying that the Palestinian will be willing to discuss any offer they receive.
According to Shaath, the political stalemate left the Palestinians with two options – war with Israel, or appealing to the international community. "The Palestinians are not interested in war with Israel. Israel is preparing for September and deploying large forces – but that's ridiculous, because we don’t want violence," he said.
Palestinians watching Abbas' speech (Photo: AFP)
The Fatah member noted that Netanyahu placed large security forces in the West Bank ahead of September because he wanted to show the world that Palestinian violence is around the corner. "We have managed to create a culture of non-violent resistance, and we will not resort back to violence. Such a move will come at a high cost both for us and for Israel."
Shaath also emphasized that the Palestinians will not cancel the Oslo Accords or declare them invalid.
Like Abbas, Shaath also stressed that the appeal to the United Nations is not meant to isolate Israel.
"This is the moment of truth for everyone, including the United States, which declared that it wants to see a Palestinian state established in September 2011. We are not appealing to the United Nations in order to punish anyone, so why issue a veto against us? Our intention is not to irritate or delegitimize anyone," he said.
Asked about the possibility of the United States cutting its aid to the Palestinian Authority, Shaath said: "We are not worried about that at all, and we will not negotiate our principles. I am certain that the Arab states, Europe and Japan will continue giving aid to the Palestinian Authority."
The Fatah official dismissed Hamas' claims against the statehood bid, but admitted that the Palestinian Authority should have done more to include them during preliminary discussions. "Hamas received many guarantees on our commitment to the inter-Palestinian reconciliation during abu Mazen's speech," he noted.