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Friday, February 16, 2007

Principles of Palestinian Politics: Abbas: We Abide by Agreements Signed by PLO

The "unity government" takes advantage of priniciples developed by the late Yasser Arafat and expands on them, leveraging on the Hamas-Fatah split.
A first principle is obfuscation. Abbas says "we renounce terror." This is achieved not by any practical change, but by redefining terror as "resistance."
A second principle is deniability. Arafat pioneered this principle in the 1970s, when Black September was attacking US interests and killing Israeli athletes. Arafat insisted that this movement was a "splinter faction" that he did not control. He said the same of terror carried out after 2000. However, Israeli and US intelligence findings showed conclusively that Arafat had given the orders for these operations or hired the terrorists.
A third principle is "good cop-bad cop." This has played a prominent part in Palestinian strategy since 1994, and finds its fullest expression in the unity government agreement. As Suffian Abu-Zeid noted, "anyone can understand this agreement as they wish." The PLO can say they abide by agreements and recognize Israel. The Hamas can say they will never recognize Israel.
The report below illustrates the first two principles in operation. Numerous Hamas statements that insist that the agreement does not require recognition of Israel illustrate the third point.

President Abbas: We Abide by Agreements Signed by PLO

GAZA, February 16, 2007 (WAFA - PLO news agency)- President Mahmoud Abbas said we have totally abided by the agreements signed by the PLO and we are committed to the international resolutions related to the Palestinian cause, we are also committed to the Road Map and the vision of President Bush of two states.

In an interview with Palestine TV the President affirmed: We are also committed to renouncing terrorism which late President Yasser Arafat announced in 1988. We are abided by all these issues as we are also
committed to the Arab peace initiative in 2002 which we honorably
participated in its formulation.

Hereby is unofficial translation of the interview:

Q: After this long trip of dialogue and indifferences in big Arab stations,
topped with the Saudi initiative, you signed the Mecca Agreement, as well as
you handed the commissioning letter, how do you evaluate these efforts and
what exactly the role of the Arabs, Palestinian factions and civil society?

A: In fact, the efforts were restless, they took a long and hard time,
because we wanted to reach a result. No doubt, there were impediments and
stations which we can describe as a mess the Palestinian arena witnesses. In
spite of all this, I would like to say that we passed through more than
dialogue in Doha, Damascus and Cairo, till we reached Mecca.

The dialogue in Mecca is distinguished for its sacredness as it took place
in the cradle of the Islamic religion. In this station, the dialogue was
mounted with the sought results we wished to form a national unity

Hence, we succeed in putting an acceptable political framework for this
Government, to end all acts taking place from time to time between brothers
either in the Gaza Strip or in the West Bank.

I do not deny that all Arabs were hopefully waiting for the results of Mecca
dialogue as they were enthusiastic for the dialogue and keen for its

In addition, the Palestinian arena, I mean the private sector and civil
society were eager than us, the Palestinian factions, for the success of the
dialogue, they had been urging us to reach this agreement, we thank God that
we fulfilled the appeals of the people, the homeland and the conscious, as
we achieved the agreement.

Q: Mecca station and the good Saudi offices was the top of various Arab
efforts beside the Palestinians', how do you comment on this station?

A: Today, I mentioned some of theses exerted efforts. But, we could not
point out all of them, for instance: When there is a Palestinian-Palestinian
fighting or dialogue, a lot of Arab countries contact us and tell us:
"Please come to us to talk with each other, please, we want you to
succeed.", in such attitudes, we felt that all of them wish we have to
succeed. I mean Qatar and Syria, and no doubt Egypt. Egypt has a key role,
and Jordan also, there are a lot of stations we passed through. In all
stations we felt that all of them are eager for the success of our dialogue
and to exit from the neck of the bottle we live in, and thank God we

Q: Being the Chairman of the PLO and the President of the PNA, you are in
charge of the political and negotiations files, do you find that the (Mecca)
Agreement and the letter of commissioning cohere with this task?

A: In general, the PLO is the only body in charge of the political and
negotiations files and I think that the letter of commissioning is enough
for the upcoming government which is asked to abide by this letter. Now, as
PNA and officials, we have totally abided by the agreements signed by the
PLO and we are committed to the international resolutions related to the
Palestinian cause, we are also committed to the Road Map and the vision of
President Bush of two states. We are also committed to renouncing terrorism
which late President Yasser Arafat announced in 1988. We are abided by all
these issues as we are also committed to the Arab peace initiative in 2002
which we honorably participated in its formulation.

Accordingly these issues are reflected in the Agreement. But frankly
speaking, I say, being the Chairman of the PLO, we are committed to all the
Palestinian legitimacies, I mean the resolutions of the Palestinian National
Council and the agreements signed by the PLO as well as the Arab and
international legitimacies.

All these issues were undoubtedly mentioned in the letter of commissioning
and they might raise some questions, but let me say that we are committed to
all these obligations, we will never renounce these commitments because
first and foremost we are in charge of the negotiations and political files
as well as the obligations of the PLO since it was established to this

Q: Are you optimistic about your meeting with the Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and
the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice? Or are we going to witness a new
round of hard struggle for you have always affirmed you want start the final
status negotiations?

A: In fact, it is the first time to hear a new tone from the Americans.It
speaks about final and comprehensive negotiations. For more than one time,
we have given our stance of a state with temporary borders and we recently
heard of nearly similar stance from USA. So, for the first time, we feel a
serious American position aiming at ending the Palestinian file. We fully
welcome this [US] intention and seriousness therefore we will meet it with
more seriousness and deeper aspiration to resolve our issues during this
period, a year or less than a year. For that reason, we say we go to this
meeting with open hearts and hope to reach a final solution to the cause.

Q: What is your message to the Palestinian people who lived in the sorrowful
infighting and now living among the good news of the agreement and the
letter of commissioning?

A: I say to the Palestinian people that we pray to God that the black days
and the days of fighting will never return. I tell the Palestinian people
that there is a national unity, and it will be a fact through the new
government. But we say that there are still suffering, and we can not
promise the people that the siege would be lifted. We will struggle to lift
the siege. There are still obstacles relevant to the siege and we hope it
will be soon lifted.

We say that we will reach an agreement on the Palestinian prisoners who
spent tens of years [in Israeli jails], in addition to the ministers and
lawmakers. In the meantime, we say that the Israeli prisoner should be
released. While we are calling for freedom for our prisoners, we frankly
call for the release of this soldier and to end his problem and we call for
a comprehensive solution for all the prisoners.

S.A.S & A.D (01:51 P) (11:51 GMT)

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