Hamas to Abbas: UN Bid Another Illusion of Statehood

Palestinians watch a television broadcast of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the United Nations in New York, in Gaza City. (Photo: REUTERS - Mohammed Salem)

By: Qais Safadi

Published Monday, September 26, 2011

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas returned from New York to much fanfare in the West Bank. In Gaza, Hamas officials cast serious doubts on Abbas’s performance in the UN and warned against a return to another round of negotiations.

Gaza — Hamas officials say that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the UN was emotional and reflected despair over the failed progress of negotiations with the US and Israel. Hamas views the UN speech as Abbas’s political farewell from Palestinian politics.

Hamas Legislative Council MP Yehya Mousa called for deliberation among Palestinian factions to determine an alternative to the PA after its dissolution. In his opinion, the PA has been a divisive force among Palestinians. “The PA led by Mahmoud Abbas has taken a wrong course in dealing with the Palestinian cause. It has demonstrated its failure in maintaining the Palestinian home and preserving the right of return,” says Mousa. “The PA also contributed to the resistance’s marginalization and elimination in occupied cities of the West Bank,” he adds.

Mousa believes that Abbas’s speech at the UN aimed to cast Abbas as a hero in the media. Moreover, the statehood bid “was an indirect attempt to return to negotiations with Israel.”

Youssef Rizka, political advisor to Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, believes that Abbas’s emotional speech was “eloquent... but certainly not historic. According to Abbas, the alternative to 20 years of failed negotiations is negotiations.” Rizka says that Abbas’s speech eloquently described Palestinian suffering under occupation, but argues that “it did not represent any political positions translatable on the ground and in the battlefield to deal with failure, Judaization, and settlement building.”

Rizka believes that Abbas contradicted himself by expressing his willingness to resume negotiations. Abbas has publicly criticized negotiations as 20 years of failed policy, a failure which he holds Israel responsible. According to Rizka, these signs are indications that the UN statehood bid was a tactical maneuver aimed at returning to negotiations. Rizka also criticized Abbas for not confronting the US position. Instead, Abbas spoke in general terms about states voting against Palestinian recognition as lacking conscience.

Rizka further questions Abbas’s ability to represent diaspora and local Palestinians. In his speech, Abbas referred to his position as though there were prior consensus and deliberation among Palestinian leaders inside and outside Palestine on the September bid. According to Rizka, Abbas overlooked Palestinian detractors of the plan, which casts doubt on Abbas’s legitimacy to represent the Palestinian position before the UN.

Despite Hamas’s criticism of Abbas, Hamas leader Salah Bardawil says that disagreement over the UN bid will not impact Palestinian reconciliation: “We are committed to reconciliation as a strategic choice to confront occupation and defend fundamental Palestinian demands. We do not take into account any negative or positive implications of Abbas’s turn to the UN. We are determined to continue the journey of reconciliation on the basis of full partnership and adherence to the fundamental principles of the Palestinian struggle.”

Bardawil affirms that Hamas places no conditions on reconciliation. “Real reconciliation should be based on a true partnership [between Palestinian factions] in confronting the occupation,” he says. “[Abbas] cannot make individual decisions then request that we support him.”

Baradwil says the rank and file of Hamas does not regret its rejection of the UN bid. “We do not have any regrets because we made no mistakes. We should have had a say in this historic move in order to dispel the illusion. Our people have had enough illusions and deceptions. They have already been deceived into believing they will have a state too many times.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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