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Palestinians reject reports of pulling UN resolution on US plan

Palestinian officials have denied reports that a UN Security Council resolution condemning US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan has been withdrawn, as Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas prepared to address the Security Council on Tuesday. Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said a draft resolution was “still being…

Palestinians reject reports of pulling UN resolution on US plan

Palestinian officials have denied reports that a UN Security Council resolution condemning US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan has been withdrawn, as Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas prepared to address the Security Council on Tuesday.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said a draft resolution was “still being circulated” and described rumours that the United States had exerted pressure on member states to obstruct the resolution as unfounded.
More:

Trump’s Middle East plan announcement: Why now?

Why are Arab states ‘divided’ in the face of Trump’s plan?

After Trump’s plan, what options do Palestinian leaders have?

“We are continuing the process of consultation with various countries in a way that doesn’t contradict the principles of the resolution,” he said in a tweet.
“Reports that the resolution promoted by the Arab Group and the non-aligned movement has been withdrawn are unfounded.”

Reports that the resolution promoted by the Arab Group and the non-aligned movement has been withdrawn are unfounded. The draft resolution has been distributed.We are continuing the process of consultation with various countries in a way that doesn’t contradict the principles
— Dr. Saeb Erakat الدكتور صائب عريقات (@ErakatSaeb) February 10, 2020

Trump last month unveiled his long-delayed Middle East plan, which was strongly supported by Israel but condemned by the Palestinian leadership and people. The plan envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the occupied West Bank to Israel and favours Israel on key contentious issues including borders, the status of Jerusalem, and Jewish settlements.
Erekat, who has arrived in New York with Abbas, said reports about the Palestinian leadership pulling the draft resolution were part of a “vicious war” against Palestinians.
He also stressed that Abbas would address the Security Council as planned.
Divisions under the surface
The original draft resolution, co-sponsored by Tunisia and Indonesia and backed by the Palestinian delegation, said Trump’s plan violates international law and Security Council demands for a two-state solution based on the borders of Palestine before the 1967 war.
It would have expressed the council’s determination “to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions, including enforcement measures under Chapter 7 of the (UN) Charter,” which cover military and non-military means.
After lengthy negotiations and revised drafts through the weekend, and the circulation of a drastically amended text by the US, the Palestinian delegation decided against putting any draft in “blue” – a final form for a vote, diplomats told The Associated Press news agency.
Erekat said since the resolution has not been put in “blue”, it cannot be said to have been pulled.
The Palestinian leadership has the backing of the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and, most recently, the African Union, which have all rejected the plan.
But individual countries’ positions are more complicated. In the midst of pushing for the UN resolution last week, Tunisia abruptly withdrew its UN ambassador, raising speculation that the Arab state had come under pressure from Washington.
After appearing on Thursday at the UN, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser who spearheaded his Middle East push, said there was a “tonne of cracks” in opposition to the plan.
He pointed to divisions within the European Union, which failed to issue a joint statement critical of the plan amid dissent from a handful of countries such as Hungary, led by the right-wing populist Viktor Orban.
Of the four EU members that hold seats on the Security Council, two of them – Germany and Estonia – looked ready to abstain from a vote criticising the US plan, diplomats told the AFP news agency.
The other two members are Belgium and France, which is a permanent member and therefore has the power to veto resolutions.
The United Kingdom, which is also a permanent member of the Security Council, left the EU at the end of last month.
Israel and the US have also been optimistic of winning at least muted backing from Arab states traditionally supportive of the Palestinians, with Gulf monarchies united with Israel in their hostility to Iran.
The ambassadors of Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) attended Trump’s unveiling of the plan alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who later held a breakthrough meeting with Sudan’s top general.
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Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation |NationalTribune.com

Palestinians in Gaza burned pictures of Israeli, American, Bahraini, and United Arab Emirates leaders on Saturday in protest against the two Gulf countries’ moves to normalise ties with Israel. Bahrain on Friday joined the UAE in agreeing to normalise relations with Israel, a move forged partly through shared fears of Iran but one that could…

Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation |NationalTribune.com

Palestinians in Gaza burned pictures of Israeli, American, Bahraini, and United Arab Emirates leaders on Saturday in protest against the two Gulf countries’ moves to normalise ties with Israel.
Bahrain on Friday joined the UAE in agreeing to normalise relations with Israel, a move forged partly through shared fears of Iran but one that could leave the Palestinians further isolated.
The Gaza protest, attended by a few dozen people, was organised by the ruling group Hamas.
“We have to fight the virus of normalisation and block all its paths before it succeeds to prevent it from spreading,” said Hamas official Maher al-Holy.
Demonstrators set fire to images of US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
While the United States, Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain hail the diplomatic moves as a significant step towards peace and stability in the Middle East, the Palestinians see it as a betrayal.
They fear a weakening of a long-standing pan-Arab position that calls for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab countries.
Despite a deep political rift going back to 2007, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority (PA) has a limited rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and his Hamas rivals have been united against the Gulf states’ move.

‘Military alliance’
In the West Bank, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat said the diplomatic push will not achieve peace if the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved first.
“The Bahraini, Israeli, American agreement to normalise relations is now part of a bigger package in the region. It isn’t about peace, it is not about relations between countries. We are witnessing an alliance, a military alliance being created in the region,” Erekat said.
Iran, meanwhile, said on Saturday that Bahrain’s move meant it would be complicit in Israeli policies that threatened regional security, Iranian state television reported. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Bahrain would face “harsh revenge” from its own people and the Palestinians over the Gulf state’s move.
Turkey also condemned the deal saying it undermined the Palestinian cause and would “further embolden Israel to continue its illegal practices … and attempts to make the occupation of Palestinian territories permanent”.
Bahrainis opposed to their government’s agreement to establish diplomatic relations with Israel vented their frustration on social media on Saturday, underlining the complexities of the Gulf’s rapprochement with Israel.
The hashtags #Bahrainis_against_normalisation and #NormalizationIsBetrayal were trending on Twitter after Trump announced the deal late on Friday.
Bahrain, a Sunni-ruled kingdom with a large Shia population, shares with Israel a deep enmity towards Iran, and relies on the United States, which stations its Fifth Fleet on the tiny but strategic archipelago.

Palestinians carry placards during a protest in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday [Said Khatib/AFP]

‘Black day’
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani said the deal represented a historic step towards achieving peace in the Middle East, but the PA and the Hamas condemned it as “another stab in the back” by an Arab government.
Unlike the UAE, opposition to normalisation runs deep in Bahrain, which has a history of open politics even if it has been suppressed over the past 10 years.
Former MP Ali Alaswad wrote it was “a black day in the history of Bahrain”.

The kingdom – a small archipelago located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran – has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces crushed Shia-led protests demanding reforms.
Opposition group Al-Wefaq criticised the normalisation deal.    
“The agreement between the despotic regime in Bahrain and the Zionist occupation government is a total betrayal of Islam and Arabism and a departure from the Islamic, Arab and national consensus,” it said on Twitter.
Other anti-normalisation groups, based in Bahrain and abroad, expressed their anger in statements sent to media calling the deal “shameful”.
‘Deteriorating unity’
Sari Nusseibeh, a former top PLO official, said the Palestinian leadership was “very upset”. 
“But I don’t think they are more upset than in the past about the Arab world in general. Palestinians have always complained that the Arab world has not stood behind them as they should have,” said Nusseibeh.
The Palestinian cause had already become less central as the region has been rocked by the Arab Spring upheavals, the Syria war, and the bloody onslaught by the armed group ISIL (ISIS).
At the same time, hostility has deepened between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“There have been all kinds of problems in the Arab world – disputes, revolutions, civil wars, tensions between different Arab countries,” said Palestinian analyst Ghassan Khatib. “Palestinians are now paying the price for the deterioration in Arab unity.”
The PA maintains the validity of the so-called “Arab consensus” and rejects the notion that it is isolated. That consensus has long held that Arab states will only normalise ties if Israel meets a number of conditions.
One demand is for Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967.
Another is to agree to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a third to find a just solution for the millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
“We hope that the Arab countries will remain committed to this consensus,” said Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian official, adding straying from it “will lead to nothing”.
“Those who are violating the Arab consensus … will be isolated” in the long term, he warned.

Palestinians condemn the normalisation of ties between Israel and Bahrain in Gaza [Mahmud Hams/AFP]

Choosing sides
One Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, shared the view that at the moment “the Palestinians don’t really have a way out”.

“They are also stuck because of those who want to support their cause, whether it is Turkey or Iran.”
Iran already has relations with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and slightly cooler ties with the PA.
The Palestinian cause has also received backing from Turkey, a regional power increasingly at odds with Israel and that militarily backs a rival faction in the Libya war to the UAE and Egypt.
“Turkey does have an ambition to lead this cause and is pointing to the hypocrisy of both Arab states and the West for not emphasising this issue enough,” said Gallia Lindenstrauss of Israel’s National Institute for Security Research.
Rajoub insisted: “We are not ignoring any country. Turkey is a regional superpower, it’s an Islamic country and we are on good terms. We’ll keep cooperating with everybody.”
But Khatib argued the Palestinians should keep their distance. “It’s not wise for the Palestinians to be caught within the regional tensions and competition between regional superpowers,” he said.
“If you side with Iran, you’ll lose Saudi Arabia. If you side with Turkey, you’ll lose someone else. It’s better for the Palestinians to keep a safe distance from these different regional superpowers.”
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Palestinians slam ‘traitor’ UAE for normalising ties with Israel |NationalTribune.com

Occupied East Jerusalem – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) decision to normalise ties with Israel did not surprise Saeed Ibrahim, an 83-year-old Palestinian living in East Jerusalem. For Ibrahim, it was just the latest betrayal of the Palestinian cause by Arab states.  “It all began with Anwar Sadat’s visit to al-Quds. It is Egypt who opened…

Palestinians slam ‘traitor’ UAE for normalising ties with Israel |NationalTribune.com

Occupied East Jerusalem – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) decision to normalise ties with Israel did not surprise Saeed Ibrahim, an 83-year-old Palestinian living in East Jerusalem. For Ibrahim, it was just the latest betrayal of the Palestinian cause by Arab states. 
“It all began with Anwar Sadat’s visit to al-Quds. It is Egypt who opened the door,” he said, referring to the former Egyptian president’s visit to Israel in 1977. 
“Before that, no one dared to say peace with Israel.”
Sadat’s visit, the first by an Arab leader to Israel, resulted in normalising of ties between Cairo and Israel. Jordan followed decades later, signing a peace treaty and establishing diplomatic relations in 1994. 
The rest of the Arab states held out. That is, until now.
For years, Palestinians have known about the existence of relations, albeit discreet, between the UAE and Israel. Still, they did not see an announcement of formal ties between the two countries coming this soon. 
The move is just the latest blow to the Palestinian cause by the United States since Donald Trump took office in 2016. It comes on the back of a US decision in 2017 to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the unveiling of this year’s so-called “Middle East Peace Plan” that resulted in Israel declaring plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.  
That the UAE-Israel agreement temporarily holds Israel off from declaring sovereignty over its illegal settlements in the West Bank – from a Palestinian perspective – is little justification for the rapprochement.
The UAE decision “was coming” regardless of Israel’s annexation plans, according to Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator. This “decision is at the expense of the legitimate Palestinian national rights,” he told the Palestinian news agency Wafa on Friday. 

Israel, UAE announce normalisation of relations with US help

Meanwhile, Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip, condemned the Emirati recognition of Israel as a “cowardly” and “desperate attempt to influence the struggle to defeat the occupation and the fulfilment of the national rights”.
Following Friday’s noon prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a group of Palestinians raised the Palestinian flag along with large photos of Mohmmed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the UAE, with the word “traitor” written underneath.
Palestinians have for years been troubled by signs of closer ties between Israel and countries in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, as well as other Muslim-majority nations, such as Sudan in Africa. 
And for many, the normalising of ties between Israel and the UAE signal the crumbling of a long-held mantra by the Palestinian leadership that only peace with the Palestinians can usher in peace between Israel and the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.
“The card that was in the hands of Mahmoud Abbas that there are fifty-seven Arab and Islamic countries to do peace with [if Israel agrees to a two-state solution] has now fallen,” said Muhammad Abdel-Qader, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem.
Some blame the Palestinian Authority for the present-day situation.
“After the Palestinian leadership gave legitimacy to Israel and colonialism, the recognition [of Israel] by others is just a matter of detail, ” 63-year-old Yousef Sharqawi, a former Fatah member told Al Jazeera.
He was referring to the Oslo Accords signed between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in 1993, in which both sides pledged to sign a permanent deal within five years providing for two states for the two peoples. 
“We have recognised Israel in exchange for a superficial authority, the Palestinian people must change the status quo whatever the cost may be,” said Sharqawi.

‘We reject this conspiracy’: Israelis and Palestinians react to UAE deal

Recent events and the long standstill at resolving the Palestinian issue is giving momentum to the long-held demand for reforming the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). Hamas which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 is the largest Palestinian faction outside the PLO umbrella.
“Palestinians have a bigger problem than the issue of the UAE declaring the normalisation of relations with Israel,” said George As’ad, a Palestinian entrepreneur.
“As Palestinians, we haven’t had real Arab support for the Palestinian cause,” he said. “So [the announcement of formal ties now] doesn’t hurt because under the table they had been normal.”
The fundamental issue, he said, was an “antiquated PLO”.
“It’s the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people but it is not really completely representative because there are lots of parties effective on the ground but are not represented” he added.
The trilateral announcement, which came ahead of the US presidential election is believed to serve Trump’s re-election chances and ease pressure from Israeli far-right groups on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his West Bank annexation pledge was put on hold.
A by-product of the ties between Israel and the UAE may be the hastening of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
“If they unite then elections can be held,” Muhammad Abdel Qader told Al Jazeera.
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Palestinians unanimously reject UAE-Israel deal |NationalTribune.com

Gaza City – Palestinians reacted with shock and dismay after US President Donald Trump unveiled an agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalise ties. The deal pledges full normalisation of relationships between the two countries in the areas of security, tourism, technology and trade in return for suspending Israel’s annexation plans in…

Palestinians unanimously reject UAE-Israel deal |NationalTribune.com

Gaza City – Palestinians reacted with shock and dismay after US President Donald Trump unveiled an agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalise ties.
The deal pledges full normalisation of relationships between the two countries in the areas of security, tourism, technology and trade in return for suspending Israel’s annexation plans in the West Bank.
Both the Palestinian leadership and public were caught by surprise when the announcement came on Thursday.
“We absolutely had no prior knowledge of this agreement,” Ahmed Majdalani, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) minister of social affairs, told Al Jazeera. “The timing and speed of reaching this agreement were surprising, especially that it came at a critical moment in the Palestinian struggle.”
Former PA minister Munib al-Masri noted Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who ruled Abu Dhabi for more than 30 years before his death in 2004, had always been a strong supporter of the Palestinians.
“The late Sheikh Zayed was a dear brother to me, I knew how much he was proud of his support for Palestine… I never imagined that in my lifetime I would see the day in which the UAE would simply sell the Palestinians out for the sake of normalisation,” al-Masri said. “It’s very shameful. I can’t believe it until now.”
Other Palestinian officials said though the news came abruptly, it was not much of a surprise.
“We were not surprised that much because the Emirati army was never on the borders ready to fight Israel,” said Mustafa al-Barghouti, leader of the Palestinian National Initiative and member of the PA parliament.

“We’ve been seeing recent strange moves by the UAE such as sending direct flights to Israel, and there were leaks of secret accords between the two in terms of scientific and economic cooperation. It is clear that these were preliminary steps to absorb yesterday’s shock.”
Rejecting the agreement
The PA and all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, issued official statements denouncing the UAE-Israel agreement. Palestinian leaders who spoke to Al Jazeera called it a “stab in the back”.
“We already knew that there has been normalisation going under the table, but to formalise and legalise it that way at this critical moment is shocking. It’s a stab in our back and the back of all Arab nations,” said Majida al-Masri, former PA minister of social affairs.
Al-Barghouti emphasised the deal “doesn’t introduce any change or progress, it’s far from being genuine peace”. 
“This is an attempt to enforce the ‘deal of the century’ that aims to liquidate Palestinian national rights, it represents a denial of Palestinian, Arab and Islamic rights,” he said.
Palestinian leaders said the deal was “a free gift to Israel” and was made to help the re-election of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The UAE’s position, in terms of its timing and essence, can only be understood as giving Israel leverage for free,” said Wasel Abu Yousef, member of the PLO’s Executive Committee and leader of the Palestine Liberation Front. “There’s no reasonable justification for it except that it gives more power to the occupation and increases its crimes against the Palestinians.”
Normalising de facto annexation

Although, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed said the agreement “was reached to stop further Israeli annexation”, Palestinians saw little credibility to this claim.
“The UAE is trying to deceive and mislead the public by repackaging this shameful agreement as a service to the Palestinians and claiming that it halts annexation, but that’s merely throwing dust in the eyes,” Majdalani said.
Al-Masri said annexation was “already going nowhere because the entire world was standing against it”.
“So using annexation as a pretext is an exploitation of Palestinians to cover up what’s been done here,” al-Masri said. “But neither the UAE nor other countries are entitled to speak in the name of Palestinians.
“The format of the agreement implicitly approves of Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem. It only opposes ‘further annexation’ while approving what’s been annexed already.”
Palestinian leaders argued the agreement will not stop Israel from extending sovereignty to the West Bank.
“Instead of de jure annexation, Israel is furthering its creeping annexation. It’s accelerating and increasing its aggression on the ground in terms of settlement construction, home demolitions and what’s happening in the Ibrahimi and Al-Aqsa mosques, and in lands that fall in area C,” said al-Masri.
Palestinians noted that Netanyahu had kept the door open to annexation and merely said it was temporarily delayed.
“Netanyahu responded directly to this point and said that annexation is still on the agenda,” al-Masri said. “This is a slap in the face of the UAE – to prove them wrong and embarrass them.”
Breaching Arab positions
Al-Barghouti called the agreement “a divergence from the Arab peace initiative” and “a stab in the back of Arab positions”.
“It even contradicts the interests of the Emirati people themselves and goes against the historic position of the UAE’s previous rulers such as Sheikh Zaid,” he said.

Majdalani said the deal aims to reshape the Arab approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “It allows Netanyahu to say that he can achieve peace in return for peace with the Arabs without withdrawing from any territories.”
Al-Barghouti said he fears the agreement will give a pretext to countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom – which welcomed the deal – to look away from the situation.
“But we’re surprised that Arab governments like Bahrain and others would openly express support for this deal. Did they forget the Palestinian people and their rights? Did they forget Jerusalem and Islam?” he said.
Added Abu Yousef: “The world should see Israel’s accelerated and increased crimes on the ground in the occupied territories, not just the threat of annexation.”
‘Struggle will continue’
Despite the disappointment, Palestinians emphasised Thursday’s announcement will not affect their determination to end the occupation.
“Our sacrifices that we gave in confronting this occupation will not go to waste, we will strongly hold on to our rights and principles, supported by all the free people of the world,” said Abu Yousef.
Majdalani the Palestinian leadership was looking a ways to respond. “We took an immediate decision to recall our ambassador to Abu Dhabi and we’re currently having all options on the table to consider.”
Palestinian officials urged the Arab world and international community to act. “The best response to the deal can only come from fellow Arab nations,” al-Masri noted.

Abu Yousef said the PLO “calls on Arab states to issue a unified position against the UAE’s decision, so that there wouldn’t be space for other Arab countries to follow its lead in weakening Arab positions and support to the Palestinians”.
He said the UN’s International Criminal Court (ICC), which may soon announce an investigation into Israeli actions in occupied Palestine, must now act.
“The international community, particularly international organisations like the UN, are now urged more than ever to take responsibility in stopping these crimes and empowering our people. Hence, we call on the ICC to expedite its ruling on holding the occupation accountable,” Abu Yousef said.
Al-Masri concluded: “We still have hope on the Arab people, including the Emirati people who unfortunately cannot express their mind due to terrible state repression. The Arab public still rejects such normalisation.”
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