mahmoud abbas

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Father Roy writes:   Jordan’s King Abdullah will be the first leader of an Arab country to visit Palestine after it was recognized as a non-member state in the UN General Assembly.  He has been referring to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the “core” problem for the Arab World for years.   Peace, Roy 

King Abdullah II of Jordan

King Abdullah II of Jordan

King of Jordan to visit Palestine Thursday 

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — King Abdullah II of Jordan will visit Palestine on Thursday, the ambassador of Palestine to Jordan Atallah Khairi said Wednesday.

Khairi confirmed that Abdullah’s helicopter would land at the Muqataa in Ramallah midday Thursday.
The Jordanian monarch will pay a short visit to Ramallah in the central West Bank where he is scheduled to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas.

Jordan’s premier Abdullah al-Nusoor will accompany Abdullah along with foreign minister Nasser Judah, Jordanian Royal Court chief Riyad Abu Karaki, director of the king’s bureau Imad Fakhouri and the king’s special secretary.

A delegation of journalists will arrive in Ramallah earlier Thursday morning.

King Abdullah of Jordan will be the first leader of Arab country to visit Palestine after it was recognized as a non-member state in the UN General Assembly.

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Father Roy writes:   One wonders what positions our recently “unshackled” President will take on the issues at the Helsinki Conference next month.  Peace, Roy

Obama in Cairo in 2009

Obama in Cairo in 2009

Will Unshackled Politicians Deliver Peace in Palestine?  

Reelected U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to be able to conduct policy with much more vigor.

While on domestic and economic issues he will need to work with a Republican House (the Senate will be Democratic), foreign relations is where the executive branch (the White House and the State Department) has the ability to apply his policies.

America’s first African American president who grew up in several parts of the world should be able to produce a foreign policy much closer to his heart and beliefs without having to worry about another election.

Second-term U.S. presidents, who naturally care about their legacy, often look overseas to find ways for history to remember them.

War and peace cannot be addressed in any part of the world more than in the Middle East, where the U.S. is fighting a war in Afghanistan and will continue to need to win the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims.

Obama’s win also signals a clear vote of confidence from American Jews who voted for him. More than 70 percent of U.S. Jews supported the president (unlike American Israelis who supported Romney).

On the Palestinian side, the newly reelected U.S. president can count on a Palestinian leader who, similarly, is not shackled by the need to run for office again. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is determined not to run for office again, which leaves him free to say his mind, as he did last week when he said on Israel TV’s second channel what most Palestinians think.

Abbas declared that Palestine is the territories occupied in 1967 and that most Palestinians (including himself) do not insist on returning to live in their homes in Israel.

Even the head of the Islamic movement Hamas is not planning to run for reelection as the head of the political bureau. Khaled Mishaal, who left Syria and has publicly supported popular rather than military struggle as the way to liberate Palestine, also supports the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

So with the reelection of Obama, and with his strong foreign policy record and his tough policy against radical extremist forces around the world, he should be in a good position to push for a vigorous policy in the Middle East.

Solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict must rank high in Obama’s second term. Obviously new blood and new ideas are needed to give this effort a serious push.

As was proved before, moving ahead in the Middle East will most likely have to be done through a mix of pressure and behind-the-scenes politicking.

The Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement and the initial Palestinian-Israeli memorandum of understanding were prepared in secret. Obviously, once a package deal is agreed upon, it will require public support. Previous experience makes one inclined to believe that the public will most likely support a deal that leaders would agree to.

Almost everyone knows what such a deal would entail. A two-state solution will have to be basically based on the 1967 borders with some land swaps based on equity in percentages and quality of lands.

The refugee issue has been widely discussed and a solution will most likely include an admission by Israel of historic and moral responsibility for causing the refugee problem, in return for most Palestinians opting not to return (possibly a small percentage can be allowed to return over a number of years).

For Jerusalem, also, there are many solutions suggested that can be focused on. The Clinton parameters called for Palestinian neighbourhoods as part of the Palestinian state and Jewish-populated areas that could be part of the state of Israel.

An unshackled U.S. president along with Palestinian leaders yearning for peace can be a perfect formula for progress in this centuries-old conflict. No case can enable the reelected president to etch his legacy and be remembered in history more than the Palestinian case.

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Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations General Assembly on September 27th 2012, calling on the UN once again to help bring an end to the injustices and oppression experienced by the Palestinian people at the hands of their Israeli overlords.

Abbas’ move to court UN support and to apply for UN recognition as a ‘non-member state’ is controversial, even amongst Palestinians. He is an unpopular figure with many Palestinians and many fear that UN recognition could work against their interests – particularly those of the 5.2 million refugees who may have even less opportunity to return to their homeland under such an arrangement. Moreover, Abbas’ bid for UN membership has never received full support from Hamas, who say that they ‘neither accept nor oppose’ the UN move.

Even so, Abbas’ speech is excellent. It pulls no punches.  He speaks frankly about “ethnic cleasning”,“al-Nakba”, “apartheid policies” and the “racist annexation wall”. At the same time he makes quite clear that his mission has nothing to do with ‘delegitimizing’ the State of Israel: “In our endeavor, we do not seek to delegitimize an existing State – that is Israel; but rather to assert the State that must be realized – that is Palestine.”

Of course the members of the UN General Assembly already know all of this, and yet they fail to act! The standing ovation at the end of Abbas’ speech is heart-warming, but will this speech result in any sort of decisive action? We can only hope and pray!

Father Dave

 

A Transcript of Abbas’ speech

“I wish to begin by extending congratulations to the President of the 67tu session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, wishing him all success. I express appreciation as well to H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz A1-Nasser for his leadership of the previous General Assembly session, and also to the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki- moon, for his tireless efforts at the helm of this organization.

Also, from the outset, I wish to affirm our appreciation to all Member States that, in their statements to this Assembly, have stressed the urgency for progress towards the realization of a just peace in our region that allows for the fulfillment by the Palestinian people of their inalienable national rights. Ladies and Gentlemen,

Developments over the past year have confirmed what we have persistently drawn attention to and warned of: the catastrophic danger of the racist Israeli settlement of our country, Palestine.

During the past months, attacks by terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality, with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of this year. We are facing relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches and monasteries, and our homes and schools; they are unleashing their venom against our trees, fields, crops and properties, and our people have become fixed targets for acts of killing and abuse with the complete collusion of the occupying forces and the Israeli Government.

The escalation of settler attacks should not surprise anyone, for it is the inherent byproduct of the continuation of occupation and a government policy that deliberately fosters the settlements and settlers and deems their satisfaction to be an absolute priority. And, it is the inherent byproduct of the racist climate fueled by a culture of incitement in the Israeli curriculum and extremist declarations, which are rife with hatred and are rooted in a series of discriminatory laws created and enacted over the years against the Palestinian people, as well as by the security apparatus and courts, which provide excuse after excuse for the settlers’ crimes and for their accelerated release should one of them happen to be arrested, and by official and military commissions of inquiry, which fabricate justifications for soldiers who have committed what are clearly considered to be war crimes and perpetrated acts of murder, torture and abuse of peaceful civilians.

Over the past year, since the convening of the General Assembly’s previous session, Israel, the occupying Power, has persisted with its settlement campaign, focusing on Jerusalem and its environs. It is a campaign clearly and deliberately aimed at altering the City’s historic character and the glorious image of the Holy City etched in the minds of humankind. It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes and prevention of their construction; the revocation of residency rights; the denial of basic services, especially with regard to construction of school; the closure of institutions; and the impoverishment of Jerusalem’s community via a siege of walls and checkpoints that are choking the City and preventing millions of Palestinians from freely accessing its mosques, churches, schools, hospitals and markets.

The occupying Power has also continued its construction and expansion of settlements in different areas throughout the West Bank and continued its suffocating blockade as well as raids and attacks against our people in the Gaza Strip, who to this day continue to suffer from the disastrous impact of the destructive war of aggression committed against them years ago. Nearly five thousand Palestinians also remain captive as prisoners and detainees in Israel’s jails. We call on the international community to compel the Government of Israel to respect the Geneva Conventions, to lift the blockade of Gaza and to investigate the conditions of detention of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, stressing the need for their release; they are soldiers in their people’s struggle for freedom, independence and peace.

At the same time, the occupying Power continues to tighten the siege and impose severe restrictions on movement, preventing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) from implementing vital infrastructure projects and providing services to its citizens, who are also being prevented from cultivating their land and deprived of water for irrigation. It is also obstructing the establishment of agricultural, industrial, tourism and housing projects by the private sector in vast areas of the Occupied Palestinian Authority, which are classified as areas subject to the absolute control of the occupation, which encompasses approximately 60% of the West Bank. The occupying Power continues to deliberately demolish what the PNA is building, projects funded by donor brethren and friends, and destroying PNA projects involving the building of roads, simple homes for its citizens and agricultural facilities. In fact, over the past

12 months, the Israeli occupying forces demolished 510 Palestinian structures in these areas and displaced 770 Palestinians from their homes. These illegal measures have caused great damage to our economy and impeded our development programs and private sector activity, compounding the socio-economic difficulties being endured by our people under occupation, a fact confirmed by international institutions.

Israel’s overall policy is ultimately leading to the weakening of the Palestinian National Authority, undermining its ability to carry out its functions and to implement its obligations, which threatens to undermine ks very existence and threatens its collapse.

All of this is taking place in the context of an Israeli political discourse that does not hesitate to brandish aggressive, extremist positions, which in many aspects and its practical application on the ground is inciting religious conflict. This is something we firmly reject based on our principles and convictions and our understanding what it means to fuel such fires in this very sensitive area full of explosive flashpoints and how it can fuel the action of extremists from various quarters, especially those trying to use tolerant, monotheistic religions as an ideological justification for their terrorism.

Mr. President,
 Ladies and Gentlemen,

We, on our part, and as proof our seriousness and our sincere intention to create an opening in this impasse, conducted exploratory talks with the Israeli Government at the beginning of this year upon the initiative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We have also encouraged the expressed desires of several countries to contribute to efforts to break the cycle of deadlock and have also ourselves undertaken initiatives to create favorable conditions for the resumption of negotiations. Unfortunately, however, the result of all these initiatives has been very negative.

Mr. President,
 Ladies and Gentlemen,

There can only be one understanding of the Israeli Government’s actions in our homeland and of the positions it has presented to us regarding the substance of a permanent status agreement to end the conflict and achieve peace. That one understanding leads to one conclusion: that the Israeli Government rejects the two-State solution.

The two-State solution, i.e. the State of Palestine coexisting alongside the State of Israel, represents the spirit and essence of the historic compromise embodied in the Oslo Declaration of Principles, the agreement signed 19 years ago between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Government of Israel under the auspices of the United States of America on the White House Lawn, a compromise by which the Palestinian people accepted to establish their State on only 22% of the territory of historic Palestine for the sake of making peace.

The recent years have actually witnessed the systematic acceleration and intensification of Israeli measures aimed at emptying the Oslo Accords of their meaning, while simultaneously building facts on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that are making the implementation of the Accords extremely difficult if not completely impossible.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel aims to continue its occupation of East Jerusalem, to de facto annex large areas of the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to continue occupying a large portion of the Territory under different pretexts. It refuses to engage in any serious discussion of the issue of the Palestine refugees. It wants to continue its occupation of Palestinian water basins and its control over the most fertile agricultural areas in our land as well as over our air, skies and borders.

The final map and borders that can be drawn in accordance with Israel’s official positions reveal to us the following: small Palestinian enclaves surrounded by large Israeli settlement blocs and walls, checkpoints and vast security zones and roads devoted to the settlers. Thus, the enclaves would remain subject to the full dominance of military, colonial occupation, only packaged under new names, such as the unilateral plan for a so-called State with provisional borders.

Mr. President, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel refuses to end the occupation and refuses to allow the Palestinian people to attain their rights and freedom and rejects the independence of the State of Palestine.

Israel is promising the Palestinian people a new catastrophe, a new Nakba.

Mr. President,
 Ladies and Gentlemen,

I speak on behalf of an angry people, a people that feels that, at the same time that they continue with their calls for their right to freedom and their adoption of a culture of peace and adherence to the principles and rules of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy, rewards continue to be illogically bestowed upon Israel, whose Government pursues a policy of war, occupation and settlement colonization. And Israel continues to be permitted to evade accountability and punishment and some continue to obstruct the undertaking of decisive positions regarding its violations of international law and covenants. This, in fact, represents a license for the occupation to continue its policy of dispossession and ethnic cleansing and encourages it to entrench its system of apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite our real feelings of anger, we, in the name of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, reaffirm, without hesitation, that we as committed to peace and international legitimacy and its covenants and its resolutions as we are adherent to our inalienable national rights and aspirations, and we reaffirm that we are committed to non-violence and reject terrorism in all its forms, particularly State terrorism.

Despite our feelings of disappointment and loss of hope, we continue to sincerely extend our hands to the Israeli people to make peace. We realize that ultimately the two peoples must live and coexist, each in their respective State, in the Holy Land. Further, we realize that progress towards making peace is through negotiations between the PLO and Israel.

Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community: there is still a chance – maybe the last – to save the two-State solution and to salvage peace.

However, this urgent task must be pursued via a new approach. Whoever rushes to advise us to repeat an experience that has proven to be fruitless – negotiations with the Israeli Government without clear terms of reference – must understand that this will result in reproduction of failure and again provide a cover for entrenchment of the occupation and will finish off an already-dying peace process. And, whoever who advises us to wait, must realize that the festering situation in our country and our region has its own timing and can neither withstand further procrastination and delay nor its placement at the bottom of the global agenda.

The approach required for saving the chance for peace must first and foremost be predicated on the understanding that racial settler colonization must be condemned, punished and boycotted in order for it to be completely halted. This approach also requires reaffirmation of and adherence to the terms of reference and foundations of the solution to the conflict, which have been endorsed by all of you.

The core components of a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict do not require effort to discover, but rather what is needed is the will to implement them. And marathon negotiations are not required to determine them, but rather what is needed is the sincere intention reach peace. And those components are by no means a mysterious puzzle or intractable riddle, but rather are the clearest and most logical in the world. This includes the realization of the independence of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, over the entire territory occupied by Israel since 1967, and the realization of a just, agreed solution to the Palestine refugee issue in accordance with resolution 194 (III), as prescribed in the Arab Peace Initiative.

Indeed, the fundamental components of the solution to the conflict exist in the documents and resolutions of the United Nations and in the resolutions of regional organizations, starting from the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM) and the African Union (AU), as well as in the statements of the European Union (EU) and the international Quartet.

The international community, embodied in the United Nations, is required now more than ever to uphold its responsibilities. The Security Council is called upon to urgently adopt a resolution comprising the basis and foundations for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that would serve as a binding reference and guide for all if the vision of two-States, Israel and Palestine, is to survive and if peace is to prevail in the land of peace, the birthplace of Jesus (peace be upon him), and ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and the final resting place of Abraham (peace be upon him), the land of the three monotheistic religions.

Mr. President, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The independence and freedom of the State of Palestine is above all and ultimately a sacred right of the Palestinian people and an entitlement that must be realized for it has been long overdue for too many decades.

At the same time, the Palestinian National Authority has affirmed, through implementation of its State institution-building program, the ability to create an advanced model for an effective, modem State through the development of the performance of its institutions, public finance management through the adoption of transparency, accountability and rules of good governance. These achievements have been considered by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to constitute an impressive undertaking and success story, one that was again commended in the latest report just a few days ago, confirming full Palestinian readiness for the transition to an independent State, while at the same time stressing that the Israeli occupation remains the only obstacle to the realization of the State of Palestine.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

When, a year ago during the previous session of the General Assembly, we submitted our application for consideration by the Security Council to allow the State of Palestine to assume its rightful place among the nations of the world as a full member in the United Nations, a major and hostile uproar was raised by some against this political, diplomatic, peaceful step aimed at saving the peace process by asserting its basis and foundation. However, our endeavor was aborted, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the countries of the world supported, and continues to support, our application.

Yet, last autumn, when the countries of the world had the opportunity to declare their stance without any restrictions or “veto”, they voted, despite enormous pressures, in strong support of the acceptance of Palestine as a Member State of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A year has passed and Palestine, the homeland of Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said, is playing its role in UNESCO with high responsibility and professionalism, and is committed to international conventions, cooperating with all Member States in order to advance the objectives of the organization, and providing a model of what its positive, constructive contribution in international organizations would be.

Mr. President, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In order to enhance the chances for peace, we will continue our efforts to obtain full membership for Palestine at the United Nations. And, for the same purpose, we have begun intensive consultations with various regional organizations and Member States aimed at having the General Assembly adopt a resolution considering the State of Palestine as a non-Member State of the United Nations during this session. We are confident that the vast majority of the countries of the world support our endeavor aimed at salvaging the chances for a just peace.

In our endeavor, we do not seek to delegitimize an existing State – that is Israel; but rather to assert the State that must be realized – that is Palestine.

Mr. President,
 Ladies and Gentlemen,

More than 64 years have passed since A1-Nakba and a large portion of those who were its direct victims and witnessed its horrors have died with their memories preserved in their minds and hearts about their beautiful world that was devastated, their warm homes that were demolished, and their peaceful villages that were erased from existence, and about their renaissance that was undermined, and their loved ones, dear men, women and children, who were killed in wars, massacres, attacks, raids and incursions, and about their beautiful country that was a beacon of coexistence, tolerance, progress and a crossroads of civilization. They died in the camps of displacement and refuge to which they were expelled following their uprooting fi’om their homeland as they awaited the moment in which thcy would resume their suspended lives and complete their journey that was interrupted and repair their shattered dreams. They died while they clung to their legitimate human right to justice and freedom and to redress for the historic unprecedented injustice inflicted upon them.

At present, 77% of the Palestinian people are under the age of 35 years. Although they did not experience the horrors of A1-Nakba, they know very well the details of its horrendous facts from the accounts told to them by their parents and grandparents who endured it. And, they are suffering its ongoing effects until today and every day as a result of the practices of the occupation and the settlers on a land that is diminishing and a horizon before them that is blocked against their simple, ordinary dreams. They see their homeland and, their present and future vulnerable to continued usurpation and they say firmly: we will not allow a new Nakba to happen.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I say to you that the brave Palestinian people will not allow themselves to be the victim of a new Nakba. My people will continue their epic steadfastness and eternal survival in their beloved land, every inch of which carries the evidence and landmarks affirming their roots and unique connection throughout ancient history. There is no homeland for us except Palestine, and there is no land for us but Palestine. Our people will continue to build the institutions of their State and will continue to strive to achieve national reconciliation to restore the unity of our nation, people and institutions via resorting to the ballot boxes, which will confirm our people’s pluralistic democratic choice. Our people are also determined to continue peaceful popular resistance, consistent with international humanitarian law, against the occupation and the settlements and for the sake of freedom, independence and peace.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Prevent the occurrence of a new Nakba in the Holy Land.
 Support the realization of a free, independent State of Palestine now. Let peace be victorious before it is too late.”

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The highlights in this report are mine.   Peace, Roy 

Nouran El-Behairy  July 25, 2012

Palestine seeking to upgrade UN status at the General Assembly despite warnings

Arab League representatives announced their full support on Sunday for upgrading the status of the Palestinian territories to a non-member state at the United Nations.

The announcement was made during a meeting of a follow up committee on the Palestinian peace process attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas previously announced his intention to seek non-member status last year but the United States and Israel both expressed dismay over the move.

“The Arabs decided to go to the UN to seek non-member state status for Palestine,” Palestinian Peace Negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP. “It has been agreed that we will start preparing the legal, procedural and political file relating to the Palestinian application for non-state membership.”

Erekat added that they will begin consulting UN groups like the African Group, the Non-Aligned Movement, the European Union and the South American Bloc in order to garner their support for the Palestinian request.

The appeal to the General Assembly will be prepared by a separate committee and reported to the next Arab League meeting scheduled 5 September in Cairo, where the date for presenting the application will be specified.

Palestinian officials are seeking General Assembly recognition in order to reaffirm the pre-1967 borders, leaving East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza within the borders of a Palestinian state. The areas were lost to Israel in the 1967 war and since then Israel has moved up to 500,000 settlers to east Jerusalem and West Bank in an effort to blur the pre-1967 borders.

Abbas made a bid for full Palestinian membership to the Security Council in September 2011, in a move that incurred the wrath of the US and Israel who believe negotiations are the only way for the recognition of Palestinian state. Abbas failed to muster the required votes.

This time, Palestinian officials feel confident in acquiring the simple majority required to win a seat at the General Assembly. The Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad El-Malki told Ma’an News agency that he expects Palestine to get a majority of roughly 130-140 votes.

Another important detail about the bid is itstiming. If the Palestinians make their move before November this could affect the course of the US presidential elections.

Earlier this month, news reports mentioned that United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Abbas in Paris that if they sought a bid before the US elections, the Palestinian Authority would be subjected to political and economic sanctions.

El-Malki told Ma’an news that Palestinian officials do not fear US sanctions. “The decision is that the Palestinian leadership will go to the General Assembly despite the consequences,” Malki said.