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Palestinian factions divided over UN bid

Sept. 12, 2011 5:56 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 14, 2011 10:00 P.M.)
By: Ayman Abu Shanab
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- As President Mahmoud Abbas prepares to submit a bid for recognition of Palestine as the UN's 194th member, Palestinian factions are divided over the campaign.

Abbas will head to New York on Monday ahead of the General Assembly's annual session, while the US has already vowed to veto Palestine's request for full UN membership at any Security Council vote.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has announced its support for the UN campaign.

"We support the Palestinian leadership's plan to go to the UN because that is a natural right of the Palestinians and part of the political battle against Israeli occupation," says Kayid Al-Ghoul, member of the PFLP's politburo.

Al-Ghoul believes the UN bid will mark the end of bilateral negotiations with Israel, after which the UN should try to find a new political process by holding an international conference. The main goal of this conference will be to approve mechanisms to put UN resolutions related to the Palestinians' rights into effect.

"Regardless of the outcome, this step should be part of the political battle we fight against occupation. It will also be an opportunity to enlarge the circle of solidarity with the Palestinian people's rights, and to expose Israel's policies and the supportive US policy,” the PFLP official said.

Al-Ghoul says he is concerned that Palestinian officials have referred to the possibility of canceling the UN bid if they received new offers to resume peace negotiations with Israel.

Canceling the bid would harm the Palestinian position and create political rivalry, Al-Ghoul said, adding that it would suggest the whole campaign was just a tactic aimed at returning to negotiations.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine also supports the UN bid.

DFLP politburo member Salih Nasser says it is a Palestinian demand and a national necessity "to end the US domination of peace negotiations because it has been practically proved that the US is aligned with Israel."

He added that the UN bid would urge the international community to uphold its responsibilities as well as putting pressure on Israel.

Nasser encouraged the Palestinian public to support the campaign.

The Popular Struggle Front considers the UN initiative an attempt to get the international community to take its responsibilities and face the Israeli violations against the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian National Initiative supports the UN bid as "the last option for two states," secretary-general Mustafa Barghouti told reporters at a press briefing on Saturday.

"The time has come for an alternative. There is no space or place for talks," Barghouti said, adding that the campaign was "an outcry toward the international community for a two-state solution."

"We won't be slaves to apartheid for the rest of our lives," the PNI leader said. "If South Sudan could get statehood in 48 hours, then Palestinians should get it."

Barghouti said the reaction of Israel and the US to the proposal convinced him that it "might be the right step."

Hamas, however, does not support the bid for UN recognition on the grounds that it is a unilateral move by the president.

Hamas official Musheer Al-Masri says the bid is an "individual step taken by President Abbas without consulting any faction."

Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar says the Gaza Strip, which Hamas controls, has been left out of the campaign.

"Nobody has asked the people in Gaza to take to the streets showing solidarity with the so-called September bid. If the Palestinian Authority calls for that, we will oppose it because they detain people in the West Bank. How can I give them the right to demonstrate in Gaza, while they do not give us that right in the West Bank?"

Islamic Jihad also criticized the PA for launching the bid unilaterally.

"This move needs to be studied to make sure it will not ignore major issues such as the right of return, and the future of the Palestine Liberation Organization as a umbrella for the whole Palestinian people," said Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawood Shihab.

Shibab added that Islamic Jihad had reservations toward the UN bid, and that a state could not be announced under occupation.

The Islamic Jihad official said he expected the campaign to fail without Palestinian consensus.
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