No 1117 Posted by fw, August 07, 2014
As talks in Cairo between Israel and a Palestinian delegation — excluding Hamas — continue, the Palestinian people, particularly those in Gaza, may be wondering what to expect from Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, who, of late, have given the appearance of being in bed with anti-Hamas negotiators from Israel, the US, and Egypt.
The three Electronic Intifada articles below give every reason for Hamas supporters to be concerned. The titles alone are ominous:
In some cases, the re-posts of these articles have been abridged, subheadings and text highlights added, and in the first piece, a comment to clarify confusion about Palestine’s status with the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been added.
Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, has been studying “our options” for years, refusing to take “real action”
During a meeting in Ramallah this week, Mahmoud Abbas, the PA’s president, said, “The ugly and grotesque Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people must be stopped.” He added, “We ask the world to support us in seeking justice, and from now on we will study all our options to reach this purpose.”
That is typical talk from the PA. For years now, the authority has been studying “all our options” — without holding Israel to account.
Asking Switzerland to convene international conference on international law is little more than “symbolic gesture”
Abbas’ statement isn’t the only thing being discussed in the Palestinian media. Another popular news item relates to how the PA is asking Switzerland to convene an international conference on respecting international law. All signatories of the Geneva conventions would be invited.
At first glance, this may appear to be an important initiative. Yet it is really a symbolic step, rather than something that would seriously challenge Israel’s impunity.
With the urgency of the situation in Gaza, the PA should be thinking about more than symbolic gestures.
Given that Abbas has vowed to fight Israel by means of international law, it is surely time that the PA seeks immediate access to the International Criminal Court so that Israel can be prosecuted for war crimes.
Israel and US worried that PA may have signed the Rome Statute of the ICC
There are indications that the Israeli establishment is worried by the prospect of the PA putting the occupied West Bank and Gaza under the ICC’s jurisdiction.
A recent article in The New Republic suggests the anxiety is quite real. Based on interviews with participants in the “peace” talks chaired by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, it recounts how Benjamin Netanyahu “froze” when an aide told him that Abbas had “just signed 15 UN conventions.”
The reason for the Israeli prime minister’s anxiety, according to The New Republic, was that he feared the Rome Statute of the ICC was one of them.
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MY COMMENT re Palestine’s ICC status —
Regarding Palestine’s status vis-à-vis the ICC, John Dugard, international law expert, shed some light on the confusion about Palestine’s ICC status during a Democracy Now interview yesterday:
Palestine is not a party to the Rome Statute. And in order to become a full member of the court, it would have to become a party to the Rome Statute. It can, however, make a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the court for crimes committed in Gaza at a particular time, and that has not yet been done in recent times since the General Assembly recognized Palestine as a state. But I think it’s important to realize that in 2009, following Operation Cast Lead, Palestine did submit a declaration referring all international crimes committed in Palestine to the International Criminal Court, and that was rejected early in 2012 because at that stage Palestine was not recognized as a state. But later in 2012, the General Assembly did recognize Palestine as a state.
My position is that it is possible for the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to exercise jurisdiction, to initiate an investigation already, without any more due. And this is confirmed by the fact that in the last few weeks the minister of justice and the deputy minister of justice of Palestine have submitted documents to the International Criminal Court indicating that, as far as they are concerned, the 2009 declaration is still valid. So, I must confess that I hold the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court partly responsible for the fact that no proceedings have been initiated against Israel and Hamas before the International Criminal Court.
PA “has failed in every possible respect” in the face of Israel atrocities in Gaza
Last week, I wrote about how the Palestinian Authority stands in the way of the Palestinian struggle. The PA isn’t helpless in the face of the atrocities being committed in Gaza, I argued; rather, it has chosen to do nothing.
Nevertheless, if we consider the latest Israeli actions in Gaza as a very final test for the PA, I believe it can easily be said that it has failed in every possible respect.
Just whose side are major PA officials on anyway?
As death and destruction in Gaza reach new heights, the reactions of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority sound like something out of a farce. A considerable number of major PA officials in the occupied West Bank and abroad, including the president himself, seem to be rallying against the desire of Palestinians facing the daily terror in Gaza.
PA officials’ statements serve to blame Hamas rather that address Israeli crimes
Officials have also been making plenty of statements to Palestinians locally and foreign envoys that serve to blame Hamas and score political points, rather than address the heinous crimes Israel is committing and has been committing since it imposed the siege on Gaza.
On July 11 Abbas accused Hamas of being “merchants of war”
For example, in an interview on 11 July with Al Mayadeen satellite channel, the PA President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of being “merchants of war” and called on them to accept the Egyptian ceasefire initiative and proceed with political negotiations later.
A few days later PA director-general made the ludicrous accusation that Hamas was “sacrificing Palestinian blood”
Five days later, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, director-general of the PA presidency and member of the Fatah Central Council, commented on Hamas’ rejection of the Egyptian proposal. He accused Hamas of serving regional agendas and “sacrificing Palestinian blood in the service of a global Muslim Brotherhood plot.”
Any rational political analyst following the situation in Gaza with sufficient background knowledge on the siege and on Hamas would know that Abdel Rahim’s claims are ludicrous.
PA’s foreign minister blamed Hamas for escalating the war in Gaza
Riyad al-Maliki, the PA’s foreign minister, has also reportedly said in a conversation with Frans Timmermams, the Dutch foreign minister, that the current escalation in Gaza only serves Hamas’s political interests. Abbas, Abdel Rahim and al-Maliki’s statements are only a sample of the rhetoric coming from the PA which blames Hamas for the escalation rather than addressing the horrific daily reality in Gaza: the siege and closure of all border crossings; the contaminated water system; the destroyed basic infrastructure; the raging poverty and humanitarian crisis that has been plaguing the Strip for years.
PA officials are echoing Israeli government narrative
PA officials are echoing the Israeli government’s narrative, putting the blame on Hamas for the high loss of civilian life in Gaza and ignoring the reality imposed on the Strip. Mohammed Omer, an award-winning journalist based in Gaza, has written a report which reflects a reality that Abbas and the PA are trying to deny: that there is popular support for the resistance in Gaza. Omer writes, “The paradox of Gaza is that as the death toll increases, so does the defiance of its people.” He quotes 66-year-old Amnah Odeh, who said: “This situation cannot continue, or return as it was even days ago – under Israel’s eight-years-long siege – where life was equally, if not worse, long-term.”
It goes without saying that Palestinians in Gaza wish to see an end to the bloodshed. But returning to the slow-death *status quo* does not seem to be an option anymore.
Abbas urged governments in Turkey and the Gulf to pressure Hamas to accept the Egypt’s “defeatist proposal”, rather than backing alternative, balanced proposals from Turkey and Qatar
If Abbas, as president of the PA, wishes to represent the interest of Palestinians in Gaza, he wouldn’t be traveling to Turkey and the Gulf, where he has urged governments to seek that Hamas accept the Egyptian proposal.
Hamas has indeed put forward five realistic and achievable ceasefire conditions. Qatar and Turkey have sponsored an initiative that has seen significant support in Gaza. Yet, instead of backing those initiatives, the PA continues to mobilize efforts against what Palestinians in Gaza think serve them best.
People in Gaza want to see an immediate end to the bloodshed, but not according to the defeatist conditions put forward by Israel, Egypt and the PA leadership.
Abbas threatens to go to the ICC but fails to match his words with action
As I mentioned in my piece last week, the Palestinian Authority is still capable of invoking the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and seeking justice through international law. The PA has always claimed to be pursuing that objective. When Abbas condemned Hamas’ actions, he made sure to declare: “We will only fight them [Israelis] with what they fear most, international law.”
The PA has never been true to that statement yet.
In the interim, there have been two Israeli offensives against Gaza, thousands of new buildings have been constructed in Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and hundreds of Israeli human rights violations have been documented. Yet the PA refuses to turn its words into actions.
The PA hasn’t been serious about the international law to which it constantly refers. Its attitude towards the latest attack on Gaza is inexcusable.
Abbas, speaking of a “sacred security relationship” with Israeli occupation forces, publicly commits himself to fighting against Palestinians
Mahmoud Abbas, the de facto leader of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, has told Israeli journalists and business people that his collaboration with Israeli occupation forces is “sacred” and would continue even if the PA forms a “government” backed by the Palestinian military resistance organization Hamas.
“The security relationship … and I say it on air, security coordination is sacred, is sacred. And we’ll continue it whether we disagree or agree over policy,” Abbas told about 300 visiting Israelis at his headquarters in Ramallah this week.
US-financed PA intelligence forces working closely with Israeli occupation forces
Known euphemistically as “security coordination,” US-financed PA intelligence and security forces work closely with Israeli occupation forces and Shin Bet secret police to suppress any Palestinian resistance to occupation.
The “IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and the Shin Bet now highly appreciate” Abbas’ ongoing work with them, Indyk said at an Israel lobby think tank in Washington earlier this month.
This is not the first time Abbas has publicly committed himself to fighting against Palestinians.
In 2012, he pleaded with a visiting Israel lobby delegation to help him secure weapons from Israel to stop resistance, which, using Israeli and American terminology, he termed “terrorism.”
“If they help me to get weapons, I’m helping them because I’m promoting security,” Abbas said of the Israelis.
His latest remarks about “security coordination” are likely to be an embarrassment even to members of his Fatah faction.
In an apparent attempt to dissociate the movement from Abbas’ comments, Omar Hroub, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arabs 48 that Abbas was speaking in his capacity as “president” of the “State of Palestine.”
Abbas also praised the “catastrophic” 1993 Oslo accords
In his remarks this week, Abbas also praised the 1993 Oslo accords, now widely viewed by Palestinians as a catastrophe that turned the Palestine Liberation Organization into a security subcontractor for the occupation while Israel has continued to relentlessly colonize Palestinian land.
“Some attacked Oslo from the start and opposed it… and I don’t know why,” Abbas said. “It was a good starting point. It was the first time we had dialogue, we sat together. It was the first time I saw my friend Shimon Peres in the White House garden.”
Abbas has renounced “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and declared opposition to BDS movement
Abbas has caused consternation among Palestinians on a number of recent occasions, as when he renounced the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and declared his opposition to the boycott of Israel.
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