Hamas and Fatah agree plan to secure a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem

Analysis: initiative would see US acting as mediator with Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: to appeal to the UN General Assembly to exert pressure on Israel and the US. Photograph: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: to appeal to the UN General Assembly to exert pressure on Israel and the US. Photograph: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

 

Following the Gaza conflict, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Mishaal have committed to a three-point plan to secure a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza within months.

The US, acting as mediator, would be given four months to reach an agreement with Israel on its borders and delineate them on a map before staged implementation of Israel’s withdrawal.

If the US or Israel refuse the initiative, the Arab League will apply for international recognition of the 1967 borders and call upon the UN Security Council to demand Israeli evacuation by a firm deadline.

Abbas would also appeal to the UN General Assembly to exert pressure on Israel and the US to secure this end, said Palestinian ambassador Riad Mansour.

If, as expected, this effort is unsuccessful, the Palestinians would apply for membership to a number of international agencies, boosting recognition of “Palestine” as a non-UN member observer “state”, accorded last November.

Among those bodies would be the International Criminal Court (ICC), which in 2009 rejected a proposed Palestinian application because Palestine had not then been recognised as a “state”. This changed with the general assembly recognition, which had been opposed by the US and Israel.

An application would be regarded favourably said, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Once Palestine signs the Rome statute, it could lodge war a complaint of war crimes against Israel.

War crimes

The prosecutor’s comment, published in the Guardian, followed last week’s statement by Abbas that the Palestinian Authority could seek recourse at the court if the UN Security Council failed to set a timetable for Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, occupied in 1967.

For Abbas (79), this is a last ditch effort in his failed 21-year campaign to achieve an end to the Israeli occupation by peaceful means. Sources say he hopes the deadly and destructive Gaza war will compel the international community to take decisive action to rescue the moribund “two state” solution.

While agreeing with Mishaal on international strategy, Abbas continues to snipe at Hamas on the domestic front. He has criticised Hamas for maintaining the Gaza “shadow government” which holds positions in ministries in spite of the formation in June of a consensus government of technocrats. He also criticised Hamas for “prolonging” the conflict with Israel by refusing the mid-July ceasefire proposed by Egypt and for executing accused collaborators.

However, Palestinian commentators contend that Ramallah, Abbas’s base, and Fatah, which he heads, continues to shun Gaza. Neither Abbas nor prime minister Rami Hamdallah have visited Gaza since the conflict erupted.

Only two members of the consensus government – comprised of technocrats approved by rivals Fatah and Hamas – visited the strip during the conflict: deputy prime minister Ziad Abu Amr, a Gazan, and health minister Jawad Awad who was assaulted in Gaza over the acute shortage of medical supplies.

Under the April Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement, civil servants appointed by Hamas were supposed to be paid their salaries, but this has not yet happened.

Qatar, Hamas’s ally, paid their June salaries while the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority has promised to pay the August salaries of its appointees on time and to pay the Hamas appointees when funds are available. This has created bad feeling between Hamas and Fatah supporters in Gaza.

Hamdallah has also said that the consensus government would have full control of reconstruction. This would exclude Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for seven years. Palestinians have urged Fatah and Hamas to get on with the establishment of a proper unity government with ministers from both sides sharing the task of rebuilding the devastated strip. Palestinians also want reconstruction be monitored by an external body to counter corruption.

These are furtuer indications that Abbas and Fatah still resent Hamas’s seizure of Gaza in 2007 and have not fully embraced reconciliation. It appears they continue to follow the US and Israeli line that Hamas should be ostracised at a time Palestinians demand, and need, national unity.

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