The chief negotiator of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee has said that Hamas and the other factions are not required to recognise the principles of the Middle East Quartet. Nor, insisted Saeb Erekat, does it need to change its political position statements in order to join the national unity government that the PLO is looking to form.
In an exclusive interview with Alresalah net, Erekat said that the government’s political programme will be the PLO’s programme. It will, he stressed, be a programme for the State of Palestine, “in order not to give anyone an excuse to boycott the government or the reconstruction of Gaza.”
The PLO has formed a sub-committee in order to discuss with Hamas the formation of a national unity government, which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said would recognise the Quartet’s conditions. This includes the recognition of Israel, which Hamas has rejected and considers to be outside the terms of reconciliation agreements.
“Neither Hamas nor any other faction is required to recognise Israel or abide by the agreements,” said the veteran negotiator. “We must distinguish between the function of the factions and the function of the government.” He pointed out that the sub-committee consists of all political groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and that it will start work by early next week.
The intention is to form a national unity government made up of the factions, not independent figures, in order to enable it to deal with the problems. However, the government will be committed to a political platform set by the committee, not the individual platforms of the factions. Hence, they will all act within the government’s programme.
Erekat called on the factions across the political spectrum to be a part of the “State of Palestine” political programme, and to give “priority to national interests rather than partisan interests.” He added that Israel would refuse to deal with a future unity government just like it refused to deal with one before.
On a related matter, Saeb Erekat refused to engage in the indirect negotiations proposed by some international mediators between the resistance and the Israelis intended to strengthen the truce in Gaza. “In order to preserve legitimacy,” he noted, “we must not allow such negotiations. The PLO Executive Committee is the only body authorised to negotiate with Israel, and therefore it must be activated.”
In his capacity as the PLO’s chief negotiator, he insisted that he is authorised to negotiate on behalf of 11 million Palestinians. “The PLO is the legitimate body authorised to negotiate, not the political factions.”
Erekat suggested that Israel wants to get rid of Abu Mazen [President Abbas], just as they got rid of Arafat in the past by opening the door to negotiate with Hamas. “This is a waste of time,” he warned, pointing out that the truce in itself is a superior Palestinian interest, but it should not be negotiated by the factions.
There is a need to activate the delegation for the truce talks between the resistance and the occupation, which was formed during the most recent Israeli attack on Gaza and was headed by Azzam Al-Ahmad. According to Erekat, they must work on involving the Egyptians in these talks.
He denied the existence of any French initiative or project, saying that what was raised is a French move brought up after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with a number of Arab foreign ministers and the Arab League to draft a UN Security Council resolution to end the occupation. However, no decision has been made yet. Erekat noted that Fabius said he would meet with representatives of European countries and Russia in order to push these endeavours forward.
“The PA stressed the need for the components of the French resolution to be based on international resolutions,” explained Erekat, “and refused firmly to recognise the Jewishness of the state [of Israel] or accept any Israeli presence in the territories of the Palestinian state.” He accused Israel of seeking to nip the French proposal in the bud.
Ascension to the ICC
Saeb Erekat is also the Head of the Supreme National Committee responsible for follow-up with Palestine’s Ascension to the International Criminal Court (ICC). He touched on the issue of joining the ICC by saying that complaints would be filed on 25 June by Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki and a team supervising the Palestinian files, of which there are three.
The first is regarding Israeli settlements; the second covers Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer; and the third is the prisoners’ file. He added that the follow-up committee is working with a panel of international lawyers and they are reviewing what has been achieved by the Palestinians thus far.
The next measure after the filing process, he explained, is that the ICC Chief Prosecutor will submit the findings of the first examination to the ICC’s Judicial Council, and will ask it to examine the documentation to see if an investigation needs to be opened. He said that the Palestinians are seeking a judicial inquiry into the three issues in question.
According to Erekat, Russia and China have pledged to the PA that they would block any US attempts in the Security Council to abort the prosecution of the Israelis.
“The US is not a member of the ICC and can only hinder the project by means of having the Security Council ask the court to postpone the examination of the cases for a year,” he pointed out. “However, Russia and China have assured us that they will not allow such measures to be passed.”
A delegation from the prosecutor’s office is expected to arrive in the Palestinian territories on 27 June for an initial fact-finding mission regarding the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.
Palestine officially joined the ICC on 1 April this year, allowing it to prosecute Israeli leaders on charges related to the occupation.
(Source / 27.06.2015)