Fri 08 Dec 2023 9:35 pm - Jerusalem Time
Palestinian president calls for an international peace conference and expresses his willingness to reform the Authority
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday called for an immediate halt to the war on Gaza and the convening of an international peace conference to reach a permanent political solution that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He expressed his readiness to revive the Palestinian Authority, carry out reforms in it, and hold general elections in the Palestinian territories.
Abbas said in an interview with Reuters that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in general has reached an alarming stage that requires an international conference and guarantees from world powers.
In addition to the war that Israel is waging in Gaza, he said that Israeli forces have intensified their attacks everywhere in the occupied West Bank since last year, with settlers escalating violence against Palestinian towns.
Abbas stressed his firm position in favor of negotiation instead of armed resistance to end the long-standing occupation, noting that “with peaceful resistance” and “negotiations” will lead “to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
He expressed his readiness to revive the Authority, carry out reforms in it, and hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories.
Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority had adhered to all peace agreements signed with Israel since the 1993 Oslo Accords and the understandings that followed, but Israel had backed away from its pledges to end the occupation.
Rule of Gaza
Reuters reported that President Abbas did not present a concrete vision for the post-Israeli war on the Gaza Strip during his interview.
In this context, Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority is still present in Gaza as an institution, and is still paying monthly salaries and expenses estimated at about $140 million to employees, retirees, and needy families. He added, "The Palestinian Authority still has 3 ministers present in Gaza, and stressed the need to rehabilitate the Authority and its need for major international support" to return to the Strip.
The Palestinian President pointed out that “Gaza today is not the Gaza we know. Its hospitals, schools, and infrastructure were destroyed, and its buildings, roads, and mosques were destroyed.” “When we return, we need resources, and Gaza is what it needs for reconstruction.”
Abbas said, "The United States tells us that it supports the two-state solution and that it rejects Israel occupying the Gaza Strip, cutting off any part of its territory, or having security control over the Gaza Strip." He added, "America does not force Israel to do what it says."
Abbas added that Washington fully supports Israel and bears responsibility for what is happening in the Gaza Strip, and it is the only force capable of ordering Israel to stop this war and fulfill its obligations, but he said that it does not do that. He described the United States as a partner of Israel.
He went on to say, "Since the seventh of last October, I have held contacts and meetings with more than one head of state, a prime minister, and senior officials from America and Western countries in order to stop the war, bring humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, and prevent the displacement of citizens." He continued, "I am against the displacement of a single citizen, whether from the Gaza Strip or the West Bank."
Abbas's statements came after the White House announced, last Wednesday, that Phil Gordon, US Vice President's National Security Advisor, discussed with Palestinian officials in Ramallah the "activation" of the Palestinian Authority.
The British newspaper The Times also reported that a British military team is working in the West Bank to prepare the Palestinian Authority to take over the administration of the Gaza Strip and improve its capabilities.
During the past few days, a number of Authority officials expressed the readiness of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to return to ruling the Gaza Strip after the end of the Israeli aggression on the Strip.
The American Bloomberg Agency, quoting Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, reported that the Palestinian Authority is working with American officials on a plan to manage the Gaza Strip after the end of the war.
Meanwhile, senior member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Ahmed Majdalani, said that the Palestinian Authority is ready to regain full control over the Gaza Strip as soon as the Israeli war on the Strip ends.
Majdalani explained in a statement to the American magazine "Newsweek" that the Palestinian Authority will accept the proposal of the administration of US President Joe Biden to reunite the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the control of the Authority, if the international community supports the reconstruction of Gaza and pushes Israel to agree to the two-state solution.
Israel pledged to eliminate Hamas after it carried out the Al-Aqsa Flood Battle on October 7, which led to the killing of 1,200 and the detention and capture of about 240, according to Israeli statistics.