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July 23, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5806

Palestinian Leadership In U-Turn On Gaza Conflict: Attacking Israel, Adopting Hamas' Conditions For A Ceasefire

July 23, 2014
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 5806

On July 22, 2014, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud 'Abbas gave a major speech at an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, aimed at updating the leadership on the political developments in the Palestinian arena regarding the war in Gaza. His speech reveals a political 180-degree shift, in two aspects: a) the adoption of the Hamas narrative vis-à-vis the war, and b) the adoption of the Hamas position on conditions necessary for it to accept a ceasefire.

Up until this point, 'Abbas had been harshly critical of Hamas, calling its leaders "warmongers" and noting that its conditions for a ceasefire "are not essential and not required."[1]

However, in his speech to the Palestinian leadership, 'Abbas focused solely on condemning Israel's actions, and stated that the actions of "the perpetrators of the crimes against the Palestinian people" had crossed all lines and that they would not go unprosecuted and unpunished. He stated that the aim of Israel's operation was to destroy "the Palestinian cause" and to torpedo the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement; he also refrained from referring to Hamas' operations in the same terms as he had previously.

Similarly, 'Abbas said that he had conducted contacts with Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar, and with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, in order to stop the "Israeli aggression" and to arrive at a ceasefire and then to act to "end the siege." He took this opportunity to reiterate Hamas' conditions for a ceasefire and added his own demand – the implementation of the "fourth phase" of the release of prisoners agreed upon in the Israel-Palestinian negotiations.

It should be noted that following the meeting, the Palestinian leadership published an announcement that was read out by PLO Executive Committee secretary-general Yasser Abd Rabbo, praising the resistance in Gaza, calling on the Palestinian people to undertake extensive and ongoing popular activity for Gaza and the resistance, and supporting Hamas' demands for accepting a ceasefire.

The following is the translation of 'Abbas' speech:

'Abbas: "We Will Never Forgive And Never Forget"

"From the first moment of this barbaric Israeli aggression against our people in Gaza, in Jerusalem, and in the West Bank, we have called loudly about the necessity of stopping this aggression; we have held extensive regional and international contacts to this end, and, in particular, we have asked Egyptian President Al-Sisi to act to stop the aggression in order to prevent the shedding of the blood of our people. [The president] complied, and he should be thanked for this, and Egypt presented an initiative that includes an immediate ceasefire and action to end the siege, open the crossings, and so on...

"We have appealed to Egypt and have held talks with the president and with the relevant Palestinian factions, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. After that, we appealed to Turkey and Qatar; we approached the leaderships in both countries, and we met there with [Hamas political bureau head] Khaled Mash'al in order to stop the Israeli aggression and to arrive at a ceasefire, and from there to act to end the siege, to open the crossings, and to stop the aggression in all its forms; we demanded that [Israel] respect the Gazans' fishing rights, that it abolish the so-called 'buffer zones,' that it free the prisoners from the Shalit deal that Israel has re-arrested, that it free the fourth phase of the long-term prisoners and Legislative Council members; that there be an immediate operation to bring humanitarian aid [into Gaza], and that there be an international conference for the [countries] that are donating to Gaza's rehabilitation.

"The time has come for everyone to raise their voices and tell the truth, clearly and powerfully, in the face of the Israeli killing and destruction machine. The oppressing occupation forces have crossed every line and [have broken] all the laws. They have deviated from all standards of human and international morality in their ferocity and barbarism.

"We know that we have no aircraft and artillery. But we have at our disposal something stronger than fire, iron, and arrogance – we have the power of truth and justice. We have the rights. Nothing will erase our historic rights that were established in mighty battles. We have our unity and our cohesion.

"Therefore, I call on everyone to help each other and to set aside the disputes at these fateful moments. [I call] on everyone to show national responsibility and to distance themselves from narrow sectarian party interests. We understand that the main goal of this Israeli aggression is to destroy our national cause and to thwart the reconciliation.

"We stress to our people that we adhere to national unity, to ending the schism, and to the national unity government. We will continue contacts and regional and international moves. We will not relinquish our responsibility. We will go anywhere in order to stop the aggression and the confiscation of our legitimate rights, and we will hunt down those who commit crimes against our people, no matter how long it takes. These crimes will not go unprosecuted and unpunished.

"I reiterate the need to disconnect the Palestinian problem from all the disagreements – whatever they may be – and to stop the policy of the double standard, because a single drop of the blood of a Palestinian child is more precious to us than anything else in this world. I wish to address these statements to our people in general and to our beloved ones in the Gaza Strip in particular.

"Oh dear ones, persistent and patient, your pain is our pain and the pain of our people wherever they are. The suffering and affliction you are experiencing today deeply wound our heart, and every drop of blood and every martyr who falls pains us deep within our souls. Words cannot describe our emotions and what our heart feels for you. Your wound is our wound and is the great anger that is within us. We will never forgive and never forget. Our people will kneel only before Allah. No one in the world will live in safety and stability while the children of Gaza, Jerusalem, [and] the West Bank, and Palestinian children everywhere, do not live in safety and stability.

"Praise and eternal life to our brave martyrs. Victory, if Allah wills it, for truth, justice, and the will of our people, which has paid a very high price for its freedom and independence. The killing and destruction will not frighten us. We will rebuild what the aggression has destroyed and dress our wounds when we inevitably win and the banners of Jerusalem fly high over Al-Aqsa and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the capital of the independent state of Palestine, if Allah wills it."[2]

Palestinian Leadership's Announcement: Standing With Gaza And "The Courageous Resistance," Condemning Israel's "Criminal Terrorist Aggression"

The Palestinian leadership's announcement read: "The Palestinian leadership, headed by Mahmoud 'Abbas, held an emergency meeting tonight to study the recent developments in the national activity, as part of its confrontation with the criminal terrorist aggression being carried out by Israel against our steadfast people in the brave Gaza Strip.

"The leadership heard the announcement by President Abu Mazen at the beginning of the meeting, and expressed its appreciation for the efforts that he has made on the international and regional level and for [his efforts] to connect with the leaderships of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. [The leadership] stressed the importance of continuing these efforts, and of continuing the coordination and the joint activity on all levels. This comes as part of strengthening the Palestinian national unity under the flag of the PLO, our only legitimate representative.

"[The leadership] praises the steadfastness of our people in its courageous resistance against the occupation army that is carrying out ongoing massacres and crimes.

"The leadership has stressed that our entire people, both in and outside the homeland, stands assertively alongside Gaza and alongside its bleeding people, at every hour, in defense of the Palestinian homeland, the rights of the people, and the national Palestinian enterprise.

"The heroic Gaza is today [our] defensive shield, because it heads the ranks to protect our land, our rights, and our steadfast and sacred goals of liberation, return, and independence.

"The Palestinian leadership has called on our people to take the most extensive and ongoing popular action in order to express steadfastness alongside the heroic Gaza and its courageous resistance and against the army of aggression and its ongoing crimes. We are certain that Gaza will not break as long as it [enjoys] the cohesion of our entire people...

"Likewise, the Palestinian leadership has called for expanding the campaign of international solidarity with the brave and steadfast Gaza, for calling on all the international organizations and bodies, for condemning the crimes of the occupiers, and for acting intensively to prosecute its leaders and senior officials in international courts for these crimes. Also, it calls on the entire world to reject the misleading propaganda being spread by the government of the occupation and the aggression."

The announcement added: "Gaza's demands for a halt to the aggression and the removal of the siege, in all its forms, are the demands of the entire Palestinian people, and it is to the implementation of this goal that the Palestinian leadership is devoting all its capabilities."[3]

Endnotes:

[1] Amad.ps/Arabic, July 11, 2014. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5795, Hamas, Palestinian Authority Trade Accusations Over Israeli Operation In Gaza, July 14, 2014.

[2] Wafa (PA), July 22, 2014.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), July 23, 2014.

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