HIsham Abu Taha
Arab News
November 17, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas rejected Monday a Palestinian suggestion to seek UN Security Council support for unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Such a declaration would have no meaning and was merely an attempt by the rival Palestinian camp of President Mahmoud Abbas to pretend it had an alternative to faltering peace negotiations, other than armed struggle, said Hamas, which is ruling Gaza.

“This move is not a meaningful declaration. It simply aims at escaping the benefits of resistance against the (Israeli) occupation,” said Salah Al-Bardaweel, a senior Hamas leader based in Gaza, said in a statement sent to journalists.

“Instead of threatening to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state to be established in the air, we should work on liberating the occupied territories and end the current internal (Palestinian) division,” said Al-Bardaweel.

Declaring a state “in the air on 20 percent of the Palestinian land, which would be rejected by the world,” was not the solution, he argued. Rather, Palestinians should focus on their own “ability to liberate the land.”

A unilateral declaration of statehood had already been made by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1988, he pointed out. If it had to be done again, rather than declaring one in the West Bank and Gaza only, “why not to declare a Palestinian state from the sea (Mediterranean) to the river (of Jordan)?” Al-Bardaweel asked.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday a unilateral declaration of independence by the Palestinians would not succeed and would not be ratified by the Security Council.

Lieberman told Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that any such move would breech agreements the Palestinian Authority signed with Israel and would thus nullify Israel’s obligations under the same accords.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat caused a stir Sunday when he told Israel Army Radio the Palestinians were “fed up” with the Israeli “foot-dragging” in reaching a negotiated peace agreement and that they might ask the UN to support a unilateral declaration of independence.

Palestinians are also disappointed with the US administration of President Barack Obama over its failure to pressure Israel into accepting a total freeze of Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Abbas has made such an absolute freeze a precondition for reviving peace talks with the Israeli government of hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took office seven months ago following new elections.


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