Mahmoud Abbas resigned as Palestinian Prime Minister in September 2003 ***

Mahmoud Abbas’ resignation speech (as Palestinian Prime Minister) to the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah on 6 September 2005 was published in the JOURNAL OF PALESTINE STUDIES, pages 165-172 – but cannot be obtained online without payment. It is, however, pubished online for free by the Jewish Virtual Library, here, and it is worth re-reading. In it, Abbas says: “There are many things being said and not rumors but statements and stories told deliberately and with determination; they say I took over the Palestinian negotiations and that I monopolize them; these are lies, all lies. The party in charge of the negotiations is the PLO from the start until now. The PLO negotiates and decided and makes agreements regardless of the levels. no one in the cabinet or the authority or any other party can negotiate on behalf of the PLO. this is the business of the PLO; we have been defending this since Oslo until now. When I went to sign the agreement, I went because our Foreign Minister and the Head of the PLO Political Department refused to go and refused to accept and did not recognize Oslo. He was the person supposed to sign because he is the Head of the Political Department and he is the Foreign Minister but he refused and he stayed away and sat far refusing the agreements from the start and said that the agreements do not match with his ideas. I do not want to say more than this. When we formed the government, I handed the negotiations department to Brother Saeb Erekat and he became the head of the negotiations department after me since I was the Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee. He assumed the post and became an observer member in the Executive Committee in order to separate between the negotiations and the authority because the authority does not negotiate.. members in the authority can be members in the negotiations committee but there is a higher committee responsible for the start and end of negotiations and there is an executive committee which decides with the decision of all its members. All matters going on in the negotiations are done upon orders from Yasser Arafat. no single word or letter or issue raised or agreed upon unless there is approval from him; therefore, the negotiations is not our affair and is not the affair of the government; it is the affair of the PLO that draws up the policies while the negotiations committee executes those policies. Some say that we exclude the PLO and that we want to destroy it and that we want to surpass it. This is ridiculous and the proof is that the PLO Executive Committee meets with full quorum and over and above here in the homeland and the Central Council convenes here with full quorum inside the homeland and the PNC met in 1996 with its quorum – more than two thirds – also in the homeland. Therefore, the PLO is here in the homeland and one or two persons absent does not really matter that much and does not really mean that this might strike the legitimacy of the PLO. No, the PLO exists here and the proof is that since the authority entered here, the PLO convenes on a regular basis and some times irregularly in the homeland. The PLO exists and assumes its responsibilities and when Abu Ammar decided to form a new government and a new PM, he summoned the Central Council and the Central Council came here and gave its position and viewpoint away from the pressure and will of the Americans. There is a problem that we face based on this, since we entered the homeland, who represents us? Is it the Planning Minister then or is it the Foreign Minister brother Abul Lutof (Farouq Qaddumi) and the matter was settled in one time in 1996 when it was said: the Palestinian delegation is headed by Abu Ammar and the delegation of the Presidency consists of Abul Lutof, Abu Mazen, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Suleiman Najjab and others, and the delegation of the Foreign Affairs is Nabil Shaath; after that the matter was left unsettled and embarrassing and the most embarrassed was Abu Ammar because the complaints were coming to him from all the people; they told him: We have at the official meeting table two foreign ministers and we have two badges (identification cards) and two seats and two cars and two suites are required because we have more than one head of the delegation; in addition to that, we have two contradicting political speeches; so who represents the PLO? Who speaks on your behalf? Who represents your politics? Abu Ammar was always complaining and saying: This is a scandal.. this is a scandal; how can we handle this situation? Finally, we reached to a point where the matter has to be dealt with in its proper place since the PLO Executive Committee is the party that gave the decision and it is the party that must decide on this matter because this is dualism in speech and position and seat and this cannot go on like this.
Abu Ammar called for the convening of the PLO Executive Committee more than one year ago and presented the matter to it and the following proposals were made: either brother Abul Lutof is Foreign Minister or Nabil Shaath a state minister or to have Farouq Qaddumi as Foreign Minister or Nabil Shaath as Foreign Minister or to have them share the responsibilities. After a long discussion, it was agreed to divide the jurisdictions between them and the members started to discuss the jurisdictions and it was said: regarding the Arab League Council and its institutions, Nabil Shaath will represent us there and regarding all matters dealing with Europe. As for Qaddumi, he will represent us at the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Countries Conference and the UN and the African Summit, meaning that that duties were restricted between the two and the letter was written to be informed to Abul Lutof and to settle the matter which Abu Ammar used to described as shameful and a scandal. It was also said in the session, and all members who were present in that session are still alive, to brother Yasser Abed Rabbo: Yasser go and inform Abul Lutof about this letter; I don’t know if brother Yasser did go and informed him the message. When I formed the government, It was said: what is the post of Nabil Shaath? I set the following position: Minister for Foreign Affairs. Nabil Shaath went to Abu Ammar who said: This is wrong.. it should be Foreign Minister why the “Affairs”? Nabil came back to me and said that Abu Ammar wants that I take the post of Foreign Minister; I said then: Why not.. Foreign Minister or Minister for Foreign Affairs, it is all the same. In the Central Committee meeting as far as I remember, they said: No, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Abu Ammar said: Minister for Foreign Affairs. I said: I do not mind. I am responsible for every word I say here and you can talk to me about these things even after 10 years. Therefore, it came in the list of the cabinet as Minister for Foreign Affairs, then I want to Abu Ammar and I asked him: Did you inform Abul Lutof about this? And I repeated the question once again and he said: Yes. I told him: then, I will inform the Arab League that Nabil Shaath represents and I sent a letter to this effect and the storm came then from Tunis and other places. Why this? We said that according to the decision of the terms of reference which is the PLO Executive Committee and Abu Ammar informed me that he conveyed the message to those concerned and now we had to implement it. I met with Amro Musa and he told me: I am in a puzzle; who is the representative? I told him the whole story, but, and Amro Musa is still alive, if you receive anything different in writing from Abu Ammar, he is the President of the Authority and his decision is effective, and till now the problem still exists because it is not known who is following up the Foreign Ministry and the sole victim of all this is our diplomacy and our ambassadors and embassies abroad since we cannot do anything and our brother Abul Lutof is doing nothing about it and our brother Abu Ammar is doing nothing since he is the person in charge of the embassies and he is doing nothing and Nabil Shaath is doing nothing and we have 89 embassies spread all over the world while Jordan has only 45 embassies. Recently, bother Abul Lutof announced that he formed his delegation consisting of several members, including Nabil Shaath, the state minister for Foreign Affairs. This issue affects the whole Palestinian diplomacy and has not been solved yet and this is exactly what happened”

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