Mahmoud Abbas tells a TV interviewer that "Unity is Frozen" – UPDATED

Speaking in a television interview from Baghdad, where he is attending the Arab League summit, the man who holds all the reins of Palestinian political power, Mahmoud Abbas, said “unity” between Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian body politic, and therefore between Gaza and the West Bank, is “frozen”.

His remarkable remarks — which appear to have been made in an interview with Ma’an Television, but it is not clear from the article — are reported by Ma’an News Agency, here.

The general reaction has been, “ho hum” [a big yawn].

In the article about the interview, Abbas also reportedly said: “We agreed on the vision and objectives and conditions in full…I confirm that Mashaal was honest and we were ready (to proceed)”.

The Israel News Network report, here, tells us that ” ‘some Hamas leaders rejected the agreements reached in Doha’, he [Abbas] said in a clear reference to Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders in Gaza who blocked the deal”. This innuendo is left out of the Ma’an report…

Earlier this week, the Palestinian Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge to the proposal that arose out of long “unity” negotiations that Mahmoud Abbas would replace Salam Fayyad [whose appointment in 2007 irritated Hamas] and would serve as interim Prime Minister in an interim unity governments of technocrats [though Abbas could hardly be called a technocrat] that would prepare for new elections [in which Fatah hopes Hamas will be trounced, just to show them] that should have been held in May 2012.

A Presidential Decree must be issued three months before elections, so the May date has already slipped.

Oh, and Palestinian leader [there is almost no other] Mahmoud Abbas now reportedly has agreed to drop [or perhaps to postpone?] a threat to dismantle the Palestinian Authority…

This news of a not-yet-happened development is attributed to unnamed “foreign diplomats” [American?], and published in Haaretz here.

The Haaretz report tells us that:

    “The diplomats who provided the letter said Abbas scrapped the threat at the urging of President Barack Obama. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the letter has not yet been sent. The letter was leaked more than ten days after, Saeb Erekat asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but his request was denied. During the meeting, Erekat was to submit the letter to Netanyahu. The letter was originally supposed to include an ultimatum on the part of the Palestinians, saying that if their demands were not met, they intended to turn to the international community, urge that Israel uphold international law, and demand that Israel take direct responsibility for the situation in the West Bank. However, beacause of the heavy pressure exerted by U.S., the ultimatum was dropped. The current draft includes only the Palestinians core demands: 1967 borders as a framework for negotiations, a settlement freeze, the release of prisoners, and a section that was added later to the letter: a demand to end IDF operations in West Bank Area A.”

Obama spoke to Abbas recently for the first time since September [when Obama was warning Abbas not to make the “UN bid” for full membership of the state of Palestine in the United Nations. Obama’s phone call was followed by one from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…

Maybe they told Abbas that Obama can’t do anything until after the elections — but then [when Obama is re-elected, the presumption is], just wait, there will be big moves…

Meanwhile, Marwan Barghouthi [a Fatah “Youth” leader in his time] now in his 50s and just marking ten years in Israeli jail, where he is serving five life sentences ordered by an Israeli court at the start of the second Palestinian intifada, has reportedly called for “a renewal of efforts” in the “UN bid” to gain UN membership for the state of Palestine. This “UN bid” is why Israel and the U.S. withheld money to the PA earlier this year — prompting one of Mahmoud Abbas’ periodic thoughts of quitting or of dissolving the PA.

Marwan Barghouthi’s message, transmitted via his lawyer, urged Palestinian leaders to “Stop marketing the illusion that there is a possibility of ending the occupation and achieving a state through negotiations after this vision has failed miserably”. He also called for “stopping all forms of security and economic coordination [with Israel] in all areas immediately”… And, most interestingly, Barghouthi called for “a renewal of efforts” concerning the “UN bid”. According to a wire service report, published here, “Barghouti said that the Palestinians should take their statehood case to the General Assembly or other agencies as an alternative, alluding to forums in which the Palestians have wider support”.

In his weekly article, veteran Israeli activist Uri Avnery wrote about this statement by Marwan Barghouthi, and said:

    “I FIRST met Marwan in the heyday of post-Oslo optimism. He was emerging as a leader of the new Palestinian generation, the home-grown young activists, men and women, who had matured in the first Intifada. He is a man of small physical stature and large personality. When I met him, he was already the leader of Tanzim (‘organization’), the youth group of the Fatah movement. The topic of our conversations then was the organization of demonstrations and other non-violent actions, based on close cooperation between the Palestinians and Israeli peace groups. The aim was peace between Israel and a new State of Palestine.

    When the Oslo process died with the assassinations of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Marwan and his organization became targets. Successive Israeli leaders – Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon – decided to put an end to the two-state agenda. In the brutal ‘Defensive Shield’ operation (launched by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, the new leader of the Kadima Party) the Palestinian Authority was attacked, its services destroyed and many of its activists arrested.

    Marwan Barghouti was put on trial. It was alleged that, as the leader of Tanzim, he was responsible for several ‘terrorist’ attacks in Israel. His trial was a mockery, resembling a Roman gladiatorial arena more than a judicial process. The hall was packed with howling rightists, presenting themselves as ‘victims of terrorism’. Members of Gush Shalom protested against the trial inside the court building but we were not allowed anywhere near the accused. Marwan was sentenced to five life sentences. The picture of him raising his shackled hands above his head has become a Palestinian national icon. When I visited his family in Ramallah, it was hanging in the living room.

    IN PRISON, Marwan Barghouti was immediately recognized as the leader of all Fatah prisoners. He is respected by Hamas activists as well. Together, the imprisoned leaders of Fatah and Hamas published several statements calling for Palestinian unity and reconciliation. These were widely distributed outside and received with admiration and respect.

    [Now, in his latest statement, issued through his lawyer] Marwan advocates an official end to the charade called ‘peace negotiations’. This term, by the way, is never heard anymore in Israel. First it was replaced with ‘peace process’, then ‘political process’, and lately ‘the political matter’. The simple word ‘peace’ has become taboo among rightists and most ‘leftists’ alike. It’s political poison. Marwan proposes to make the absence of peace negotiations official. No more international talk about ‘reviving the peace process’, no more rushing around of ridiculous people like Tony Blair, no more hollow announcements by Hillary Clinton and Catherine Ashton, no more empty declarations of the ‘Quartet’. Since the Israeli government clearly has abandoned the two-state solution – which it never really accepted in the first place – keeping up the pretense just harms the Palestinian struggle.

    Instead of this hypocrisy, Marwan proposes to renew the battle in the UN. First, apply again to the Security Council for the acceptance of Palestine as a member state, challenging the US to use its solitary veto openly against practically the whole world. After the expected rejection of the Palestinian request by the Council as a result of the veto, request a decision by the General Assembly, where the vast majority would vote in favor”…

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