22/09/2009 Hamas resistance movement on Tuesday accused Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas of “stabbing Palestinians in the back” by meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Baracka Obama in the tripartite summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday morning.
Abbas’ own Fatah movement has also expressed some hesitation regarding the summit, admonishing their leader for agreeing to meet with Netanyahu before Israel declared a complete free on the occupied West Bank settlement construction.
Associates of the Palestinian president responded to the criticism by characterizing the summit as a “courtesy” meeting and not the start of negotiations.
The White House said on Monday that it had no “grand expectations” from just one trilateral meeting, but said that the move represented the Obama administration’s willingness to embrace the Middle East issue and aim for a stable two-state solution.
Israel’s envoy to the United Nations on Tuesday nevertheless hailed it as “symbolically” significant. “This is much more important and significant than just a photo-op,” Gabriela Shalev said hours before the scheduled meeting.
After Netanyahu landed in New York on Monday evening, his aides told Army Radio that the Israeli prime minister did not expect progress on negotiations to emerge from the upcoming summit. Nevertheless, they echoed Shalev’s assessment that the tripartite meeting was important for symbolic reasons.
PA: GAZA NO EXCUSE FOR STALLING PEACE NEGOTIATIONS
The official called on Obama to try and convince Israel to halt all settlement activity in the West Bank “so that his plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state within two years will not remain on paper alone.”
According to the official, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Washington agreed not to let Netanyahu use the fact that Gaza is ruled by Hamas as “an excuse.” “The issue of Gaza weakens (the PA’s) position, but at this stage we are only discussing the West Bank (which is under PA control),” said the Palestinian official.
“From a security standpoint, the Americans realize that the PA is prepared to assume responsibilities on the ground,” he added, “The trust-building measures are supposed to include not only Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank but also the transfer of security-related responsibilities to the PA.”
The Palestinians are also expected to demand that an Israeli settlement freeze not be dependent on Arab measures towards the normalization of ties with the Zionist entity. “We are not opposed to an improvement in the relations between Israel and the Arab world, but this should not come at the expense of the Palestinians, and it certainly should not be a prerequisite to the launching of series negotiations that will eventually lead to a settlement freeze and the establishment of a Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders,” said the official.
The official stressed that the trilateral summit in New York won’t mark the resumption of negotiations. “Talks will resume only when Israel proves its commitment to the Road Map (US-backed peace initiative), particularly with regards to its first clause, which calls for an end to Israeli settlement construction,” he said. “Therefore, we believe that if President Obama wants to promote serious negotiations he must make it clear to Netanyahu that the disaster in the Middle East originates from the continued occupation.”