Palestinian UN joy, but uncertainty lies ahead

2011-09-24 22:50

Ramallah - Palestinians basked in the joy of their historic UN bid on Saturday, but difficult questions about the move's consequences and the future of their dream of statehood remained.

The membership push prompted the peacemaking international Quartet to offer a new proposal for negotiations, but it lacked the preconditions sought by the Palestinians and Israel remained cautious about the plan's timetable.

The contrast between the joyous scenes in the West Bank and the silence in the Gaza Strip, where the ruling Hamas movement opposed the bid and stymied celebration rallies, served to underscore deep Palestinian political divisions.

On Friday night, seemingly intractable obstacles were set aside by many in the West Bank, eager to forget the lack of progress towards peace and revel in a rare moment of optimism and pride.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians packed into the centres of cities across the West Bank to cheer their president Mahmud Abbas as he urged the UN General Assembly to approve their historic membership request.

What comes next?

As he waved a copy of the formal bid from the UN podium, thousands broke into ecstatic chants of "God is great!" and "With our souls and our blood we will defend Palestine!"

But as the celebratory mood recedes, Palestinians now have to confront a series of tough questions about what comes next.

Shortly after Abbas's speech, the members of the peacemaking Quartet - the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia - announced a new negotiations proposal, calling for talks to start within a month and for a deal before the end of 2012.
However, there was no mention of an Israeli settlement freeze or a clear framework for such talks, without which the Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government's official position on the Quartet's proposal would be announced in the coming days.

"If the Quartet calls for the resumption of direct negotiations without preconditions, I think it's an important thing," Netanyahu told Channel 10 from the United States.

Netanyahu cautious

Asked about the chances of reaching a deal by the end of next year, he remained cautious.

"If there is a willingness to conclude [the peace deal], it will succeed, because it is promising [but] if the will does not exist, it will not work," said the Israeli premier.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israeli public radio the Quartet timetable was "not sacred".

Meanwhile, Abbas said he wants to amend an "unfair" 1994 agreement on economic ties with Israel, pledging also to resume talks with Hamas.

"We want to amend the Paris economic agreement between the PLO and Israel because it is not fair," Abbas told reporters en route to Amman, Jordan, from the UN General Assembly.

"It [the agreement] contains restrictions that affect the Palestinian economy and hinder its development. The Paris agreement does not allow Palestinians to promote their economy."


Abbas was referring to the Protocol on Economic Relations signed in Paris in 1994 between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

He went on to say he was committed to opening the "next step in a comprehensive dialogue" with Hamas.

"Some Hamas officials opposed the [UN] approach by the Palestinian leadership and had reservations, but overall, I received support among leaders" from the movement, said Abbas.

"We will discuss reconciliation with Hamas but also the prospects of the Palestinian movement," he said.

The contrast between the scenes in the West Bank and the enforced quiet in Gaza also underscored the continuing division between Abbas's Fatah party and the Hamas movement, despite the reconciliation deal they signed in May.

  • Askthequestionfirst - 2011-09-25 02:03

  • iranianprince - 2011-09-25 02:15

    If Palestine gets statehood the S&%t will hit the fan. As much as they deserve a country of their own, this will only lead to biblical turmoil

      Askthequestionfirst - 2011-09-25 02:38

      One of the conditions on Israel's side is that there can be no further claims after signing an agreement. And there must be peace. I do not want to imagine another chapter in this timeline if after some agreement, there is still conflict.

  • tictoctictoc - 2011-09-25 06:44

    Israeli Jews should have the RIGHT OF RETURN to Eastern Europe and Russia where they came from and Palestinians should have the right of return to their land of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital! Hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews have US passports as a back up - so they can also have their promised land in the USA! The colonial experiment that is the State of Israel, just like Apartheid SAfrica, has no future!

      Blip - 2011-09-25 07:02

      Palestinians have their own state already -- the Kingdom of Jordan. Israel is Jewish land and has been for over 3000 years.

      tictoctictoc - 2011-09-25 09:04

      Like South West Africa, Rhodesia etc., the apartheid State of Israel won't be around for too long - by 2020 they'd be in the trash can of history where they belong and the good Jewish people will live happily with their Arab cousins in Palestine under Palestinian rule. Or they could live elsewhere in the world where they emanated, Germany, Lithuania, Poland etc!

      SayWhat? - 2011-09-25 18:50

      I don't think anyone needs to exiled to Eastern Europe. The Israeli state should just open its borders to gaza and the west bank and a democratic government should be voted in by all the people who call the region home - be they jewish or arab.

  • Great White - 2011-09-25 08:00

    Much like their cousins in the ANC the Palestianians can't even reach an agreement on issues within their party.

  • j4truth - 2011-09-25 14:34

    Afrikaans speaking folks will be entitled to a state including the Pretoria area English speaking folks can ask for a state in Natal Nigerians and Somalis can ask for a state outside CapeTown What a circus Palestinians must return to Syria/Egypt/Jordan where they came from!!!!

      BrassCopper - 2011-09-25 15:19

      sounds good

  • Steven - 2011-09-25 20:41

    This is the beginning of the end, all who turn their backs on Israel, repent. You have no idea what you have done, those that think there is no God or that your god is the correct one take head to the warning that will come. Bow done and accept Jeshua is coming again. You have no idea what the Father of Jesus and the Jew is capable of. The events will unfold and no one can stop the process.

  • Holly Mackerel - 2011-09-26 14:52

    To those of you that use the Bible to bash the Palestinians: what of the Christian Palestinians who make up 10%? or do they not matter. Bishops in Jerusalem are supporting the Palestinian state. Palestinians who had been living on the land for centuries deserve the dignity that was robbed of them - just as the Jewish people do. Human rights ane respect for all.

  • sphamandla - 2011-10-04 14:22

    the palestinians shoul learn from the sa peace negotiations:you first need talks about talks before beginning negotiation but first they need to reunite the west bank and gaza strip.

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