Dr. Nabil Shaath, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, has declared that the on going negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel is not progressing and warns if the tragic situation in Gaza continues, then it may lead to famine. He is also urging the Palestinians to form a "transitional government".
Shaath said in an exclusive interview with the Palestinian newspaper, 'Palestine': "During the month and a half of continued negotiations, Israel has not addressed any of the topics related to previous agreements, has ignored international principles, and has not shown any good intentions neither at the negotiating table nor on the ground."
Shaath pointed out: "We do not want to negotiate the land. To us the borders are the territories occupied in 1967 and our capital is East Jerusalem. These are internationally recognized principles. We are ready to negotiate a mechanism to deal with the refugees, the water, the relationship between east and west Jerusalem, economic relations and security. However, we will not negotiate how much of a percentage Israel will take from the West Bank or Israel's proclamation of Jerusalem as a united capital or to denying the Palestinian refugees' their right of return. It is unacceptable to us. Anything that is inconsistent with international legitimacy, we consider contrary to the principles upon which we resumed the negotiations. We have accepted to resume the negotiations only on the basis of the 1967 borders. We have agreed with US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss all final status issues and the accumulation of what has happened over the past 20 years. We are not starting from scratch."
The Palestinian Authority resumed negotiations with Israel earlier this year without a national consensus. Meanwhile, Israel has exploited the negotiations to achieve its strategic goals in occupied Jerusalem by accelerating the Judaisation and settlement of the Palestinian territories and tightening the siege on Gaza.
The Fatah movement leader emphasised that "the current negotiations are scheduled for six months. I appreciate that the international community has pressured us and asked us to give Israel a chance. US Secretary of State Kerry was serious and the Palestinian people have been patient for many years. [But] the scheduled period of the current negotiations is not great."
However, Shaath pointed out the real problem is not the negotiations but "what the occupation has been doing on the ground. There is no progress with the negotiations, but the real problem is Israel's actions on the ground, especially in Jerusalem. What happens during the negotiations we are able to handle."
Shaath added that: "I do not believe this round of negotiations is the last chance. We want our country and our refugees. Any path that leads to achieving our goals we shall take as long as it preserves our national principles. If this round of negotiations fails we will return to our international mobilization and the necessary political position."
Shaath expressed fears of the worsening humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, describing it as tragic due to the frequent closures of the Karam Abu Salem border crossing under Israeli control and the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. He said, "The situation in Gaza is difficult. We are aware of the recent problems in Sinai, but the Palestinian suffering accumulates without solving the crossings problem."
The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been enduring hardship from Israel's tightened siege for seven years. However the intensity of the siege has increased since Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi deposed Egypt's elected President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.
Shaath said: "We have informed Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, during his visit to Ramallah last month, that the current situation for the Palestinian people in Gaza should not continue. The current circumstances there could lead to famine." Shaath believes that "The Palestinians should be united without delay. It is not important who compromises." He is urging "everyone to unite and end the Palestinians' crises," and calling for the formation of a transitional government. "Let's form a transitional government which begins with uniting the Palestinians and scheduling elections," stressing that Fatah "abides by the reconciliation agreements. If the same attitude is expressed by the Hamas leadership," he will visit Gaza the next day. "We fight best united."
Palestine asked Shaath about earlier threats made by Fatah leader Azzam Al-Ahmad against Hamas. Shaath replied, "I read in the newspapers that Ahmad has threatened Hamas. However, during our meetings he did not speak of them. I believe he has been misquoted. Our ordeal is more than enough. Threatening each other is not acceptable. I believe Ahmad's words have been twisted."
When asked whether the Palestinian people in Gaza will remain trapped if a national unity is not achieved Shaath replied: "I do not say the Palestinians in Gaza must remain hostages. We receive help from our brothers in Egypt and we tell them no one is against you. Despite a change of governments, Egypt's stance towards Gaza being an Arab liability has not changed."
Dahlan is no longer responsible
Shaath remarked on former member of Fatah Mohammed Dahlan's comments about utilizing foreign powers to overthrow the government in Gaza, saying that, "Dahlan is no longer responsible for us. He speaks from the United Arab Emirates. We are not responsible for him and we are not interested in what he says."
Shaath denied that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has any intention to appoint Dahlan as his deputy following speculations by Fatah leader Hussam Khader yesterday that Abbas will issue a presidential decree appointing Dahlan to the post.
Shaath said, "There are no conspiracies among the Palestinian people. No one within Fatah or its leaders think up plots. If anyone records conversations in the Revolutionary Council of the movement they would know we support Gaza."
The Interior Ministry revealed, last Friday, that there is "a conspiracy by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, Israel and intelligence agencies of Arab countries, against Gaza." The Ministry played recorded confessions of an agent involved in planning a conspiracy that "targets key figures in the Hamas government."