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Abbas: PA will not obstruct protests

Sept. 8, 2012 3:22 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 9, 2012 7:09 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Asserting that the ongoing protests against the rising cost of living in the West Bank are legitimate, President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that Israel and some Arab countries share the blame for the PA’s financial crisis.

The Palestinian Authority, he said, will not seek to stop the popular protests as long as they remain peaceful and do not harm public interests. However, he stressed that the government would not allow any attacks on public properties.

“The PA will not intervene, but we will stand in the face of those who may try to sabotage or set fire or damage (public properties),” Abbas said.

Speaking at a news conference in the presidential compound in Ramallah, Abbas asserted that the PA would respond to citizens’ demands as far as possible. “We are ready to respond as much as we can, but protests must be civilized and popular,” he said.

With regards to prime minister Salam Fayyad and his government, which some protesters have blamed for the financial crisis, Abbas said, “There is no disparity between me and the government. They (the ministers) follow my orders and I am committed to what their policy development and recommendations.”

“We do not play around with the people’s fate. I am against armed uprisings. I am against opening fire because I know how the consequences of doing so affect our people. I am pro-peaceful popular demonstrations whether they are against the occupation or against the PA,” Abbas said in response to a question by a Ma’an reporter about the possibility of a third intifada.

Abbas also reiterated that the PA would go to the UN seeking non-member status on Sept. 27.

“When we go to the UN, we will say we are a state under occupation … we have 133 states who recognize a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in addition to dozens of other countries with whom we have good relations and diplomatic representation.”

US opposition to the UN bid, added the president, is one of numerous examples of pressures facing the Palestinians. “We have before us two hard options; either we go to the UN knowing what to expect after that, or we don’t go and yet by so doing we will be losing out.”

Abbas slammed the Israeli government’s refusal to recognize Palestine's demands in order to resume negotiations, the first of which, Abbas said, is ending settlement activities and recognizing the pre-1967 borders.

Speaking about reconciliation with Hamas, Abbas said “reconciliation is elections.” He insisted that reconciliation would not be achieved before the elections commission can operate in the Gaza Strip, and then after three months when elections take place.
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