Archive for Saeb Erekat

Obama to host Netanyahu-Abbas talks

Posted in Fatah, Hamas, History, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Peace process, Pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20/09/2009 by 3071km

Date published: Sunday September 20th 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Obama, right, will meet Abbas, left, and Netanyahu seperately before the there-way talks [File: AFP]

The White House has announced that the US president will host three-way talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Tuesday.

Barack Obama is due to meet Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, separately before the three go into a joint session, the White House said.

The meeting is expected to take place in New York before a session of the United Nations General Assembly, the White House said, “to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of negotiations, and to create a positive context for those negotiations so that they can succeed”.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, welcomed Obama’s personal involvement in the peace process, but indicated low Palestinian expectations for a positive outcome.

“At this point, I think President Obama must convey to the world that one side is undermining efforts to resolve the peace process,” he told Al Jazeera on Sunday.

“This meeting is not about resuming negotiations. I don’t think we will come out of this meeting with Netanyahu agreeing to resume negotiations or stop settlement expansion.”

‘Comprehensive peace’

Talks have been stalled since Israel launched an offensive in the Gaza Strip last December and Abbas has repeatedly said that they will not restart until Israel commits to a complete freeze of settlement building in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

George Mitchell, the US special envoy to the Middle East, wrapped up a mission to the Middle East on Friday having failed to secure the concessions necessary for the peace process to resume.

He said that the three-way meeting planned for Tuesday showed Obama’s “deep commitment to comprehensive peace”.Al Jazeera’s John Terrett, reporting from Washington DC, said: “The general assumption was that George Mitchell was flying back to Washington a failure.

“After half a dozen trips to the Middle East he had failed to secure a trilateral meeting at the UN General Assembly next week.

“I suspect the Americans would have preferred to keep the drama going right the way through the opening stages of the General Assembly and out late as Wednesday or Thursday.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly refused to commit to either a permanent stop to settlement expansion, as demanded by the Palestinians, or the year-long halt that Washington was believed to be calling for.

Instead he has suggested that Israel could be prepared to stop building new settlements for six months while negotiations resume.

‘Commitments and agreements’

Maen Areikat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) mission to the US, said that no conditions had been attached to Tuesday’s planned talks.

“We haven’t laid down any conditions. We have been asking all along for all parties to meet their obligations,” he told Al Jazeera from Washington DC.

“We Palestinians feel that we have met a lot of our obligations under previous commitments and agreements and phase one of the road map [for peace].”Israel so far has failed to meet any of their obligations.”

Areikat said that the efforts of the Obama administration were encouraging but “we will have to see what kind of discussions we will have on Tuesday”.

But Akiva Eldar, the chief political columnist for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, said that it was Abbas that would be under pressure going into the meeting.

“He can’t afford to go home empty handed again, and what I mean by empty handed is without a full commitment from the Israelis to stop all the operations in the settlements,” he said.

“[Netanyahu] can come out of the meeting with President Obama and can say something such as ‘we have agreed on some formula that will alllow the settlers, especially those in Jerusalem, to maintain a normal life’.”

More than 500,000 Israelis live in settlements on land occupied by Israel following the 1967 war, land that the Palestinians see as vital to any future independent state.

‘Unrealistic demand’

Chuck Freilich, a former Israeli national security adviser currently with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, told Al Jazeera that the Palestinians’ demand for a total end to all settlement building was ultimately impossible.

“The demand that there be a total and complete Israeli freeze not only in the West Bank as a whole, but including Jerusalem, was an unrealistic demand,” he said.

“No Israeli prime minister could have agreed to that.”

Meanwhile, Ismail Haniya, the deposed Palestinian prime minister and Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, condemned Abbas’s decision to meet Netanyahu.

Speaking at prayers in Gaza for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, Haniya said “it does not obligate the Palestinian people to anything”.

“No one is authorised, not the PLO nor anyone else, to sign any agreement that violates the rights of the nation and the rights of the Palestinian people.”

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Fatah votes for new council members

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, Hamas, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Non-violent resistance, Palestine, Peace process, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 10th August 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

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President Abbas cast his ballot as voting for Fatah’s governing bodies got under way [AFP]

Delegates at Fatah’s conference in the occupied West Bank have begun voting for a new executive body and assembly that many hope will be filled with fresh faces.

The much-delayed vote got under way on Sunday, with voting expected to last for at least 10 hours and little indication of when results would be due.

Delegates are choosing among 96 candidates, six of them women, standing for election to the 21-member central committee.

They are also selecting from 617 party members, including 50 women, vying for the 80 places open in a 128-seat Revolutionary Council, the movement’s parliament.

The Bethlehem conference has been billed as an opportunity for Fatah to rejuvenate itself and shed its image as corrupt and nepotistic.

Delegates ‘encouraged’

Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh, reporting from Bethlehem, said: “Despite the accusations of nepotism and political money a lot of the delegates we’ve been speaking to have been encouraged by the voting process and the names on the list of nominees.”

One of the favoured candidates for election is Marwan Barghouthi, at 50 a younger, articulate and popular member of the movement, currently in an Israeli jail.Also in the running is Mohammed Dahlan, 48, a Fatah strongman from Gaza
blamed by many for the Hamas takeover there.

While delegates in Bethlehem filled in their voting sheets, about 300 Fatah members from the Gaza Strip, barred by Hamas from attending the conference, dictated their votes by telephone or sent them in by email.

The voting has twice been delayed and what was billed as a three-day conference has dragged on.

But Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and a nominee for Fatah’s central committee, said that this was in itself positive for Fatah.

“Many people think that Fatah is like many other parties in this region where its leader sits somewhere in the mountain and he sends something and people will see with one eye, hear with one ear, speak with one tongue,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Fatah is unlike this, we have, I think, 2,325 delegates. We had 2,325 opinions, every point [was discussed] … but at the end of the day, now, we have a political programme.”

Political programme

Delegates adopted the new political programme, which calls for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, earlier on Sunday. Erekat said that while the programme was a call for peace, it required Israel to fulfil its commitments.”Fatah wants peace, but peace cannot be obtained without Israel withdrawing to the 1967 border, establishing a Palestinian state on the ’67 border with East Jerusalem as it capital,” he told Al Jazeera.

The adopted programme reads: “The aim of Fatah as a liberation movement is to end the Israeli occupation and achieve independence for the Palestinian people in a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

While the platform reserved the movement’s right to take up arms against Israeli occupation, it also encouraged Palestinians to use more peaceful means to
pressure Israel, like demonstrations and support of a boycott of Israel abroad.

“At this stage, we are focusing on popular struggle, but the armed struggle is a right reserved to us in international law,” Nabil Shaath, a senior party member, said.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, described the Fatah platform as “not very promising.”

“But there is no other way for the Middle East but to sit down and strike a deal and agree on a peace for the region and arrangement between us and the Palestinians,” Barak said, calling on Abbas to enter negotiations.