Following are excerpts from a public address delivered by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on May 21, 2009:
Mahmoud Abbas: Statistics show a continuous rise in the number of women in senior positions. The PLO and the PA have decided to ratify the international Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women – CEDAW. Since your applause is not warm enough – we will cancel our ratification... The men did not applaud. If you don't want to applaud, it means this is still a patriarchal society. I don't see any hamasa [enthusiasm] about this... I said hamasa, not Hamas...
In addition, I have welcomed and agreed, in principle – it is still conditional, mind you – to the women's rights document. It is still conditional... This document was issued by the General Union of Palestinian Women, and Ministry of Women's Affairs. My approval is conditional, until I see your actual activities. These accomplishments have generated a palpable change in the stereotypical image of women.
We expected... I was going to talk about this later, but never mind. We expected Israel to prevent [the Gaza women's delegation from coming], but I'm sad to say, it was not Israel that prevented this – it was the coup d'état force [Hamas]. It is a great pity that they are stooping to such a level.
You [Hamas] say you want democracy – that's fine with me. Let's have a democracy. What, is democracy a one-time thing? What will be the next time? Kuwait, for example, has had three parliaments in two years. Every time they have a crisis they get a new parliament. In Italy, they have elections every month. Why do you refuse to turn to the [vote of the people], which granted you a majority in the Legislative Council, whereas, when you won the elections, we agreed to hand over power to you so smoothly and peacefully? How come you don't want [elections] now?
Let me be honest: behind the scenes, I'm being offered an extension of my term. By no means will I accept such an extension – not of the presidency, nor of the Legislative Council. Not for a single day. There will be no extension. Let's turn to the people, to the ballots, and they will have their say.
Until when will 1.5 million people [in Gaza] live under such conditions? [Hamas] says: We constitute a resistance. What resistance are they talking about? When I said that their missiles were futile, they said I was a collaborator. Now they are shooting the people who are launching these missiles. What resistance are they talking about? And I am in favor of refraining from launching missiles. I am in favor of a tahdiah [calm], so that our people can live normal lives.
They say: We are a force of counteraction and resistance. Nothing is simpler than talking about "a force of counteraction and resistance." I won't even go into what "counteraction" or "resistance" means. We are fooling ourselves. Some people actually believe and repeat this: "In our capacity as the countries of counteraction and resistance..." Who are you trying to fool?! Brothers, we know one another – what "Counteraction and resistance"? We are the ones who invented resistance. After 25 years, they remembered that there was such a thing as resistance, and they followed in our footsteps. 25 years! [They say that] the resistance in Afghanistan is more permissible. What do you mean? In both countries, there is occupation. This is your land, your country, and there are settlements. But no – [they say]: In Afghanistan, there is Jihad. In their very first fight - they were shattered. They conducted their resistance, and then began to plead for a tahdiah.
You talk about tahdiah, you run to beg for a tahdiah, you ask Egypt to mediate for a tahdiah - as well Turkey, Norway, and who else... Burkina Faso... Yet at the same time, they say: "We are the resistance." And "counteraction"... There's a new word – "counteraction." It's just like the old "steadfastness and confrontation" – remember, brothers? "Steadfastness and confrontation" – who are you confronting and standing fast against? I have no idea.