Ma'an News Agency
October 20, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas measured out his achievements but lamented the "failure" to grasp the ultimate prize of a Palestinian state, in a TV interview that aired on Wednesday.

"I managed to end the security chaos but I still can't achieve independence," Mahmoud Abbas told Ma'an TV in Jordan on Monday.

Abbas reflected on his five-year presidency, describing the last half-decade as "tough."

"I had to start from zero and work hard on security and safety in the Palestinian territories," the president said.

But as for independence, "We failed, and it is not a shame to say that we failed, we will continue to try."

The Palestinian Authority does not govern a liberated state, but "we have democracy," the president said.

"We have overcome corruption but we lack independence."

Discussing the economic situation, Abbas said his government had tried hard to improve the standard of living but that success in this area was limited by problems with donors, noting that financial aid "sometimes comes and sometimes does not come."

Asked if he considered himself similar to Yasser Arafat, Abbas said he differed from the late president in his rejection of the armed struggle, but that he supported Arafat's ideas.

"I am sure that Arafat would have delivered the same speech if he was in my place at the UN," Abbas added.

Confirming his insistence on peaceful resistance, the president said: "I am not able to go into any wars and I don't want to and it is not in anyone's interest to fight and go into wars and clashes."

Abbas said he had been successful in spreading the idea of peace and developing a culture of peace amongst the people.

Palestinians were convinced "that peace can bring back their rights," he said.

But he expressed frustration that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to freeze illegal settlement building in the West Bank.

The whole world -- including Israelis -- knows that peace is more important than building settlements, he said.

"Peace is good for both nations, but Netanyahu wants to build more settlements."

The last round of direct peace talks collapsed over Netanyahu's refusal to extend a partial freeze on settlement expansion, and Abbas reiterated that he would not return to negotiations until Israel stops building Jewish-only housing on occupied Palestinian land.

Negotiations failed because Netanyahu rejected the two-state solution, Abbas said.

"The Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu rejects the principle of two countries established on 1967 borders."

Abbas said his US counterpart Barack Obama asked him if he would return to talks without a settlement freeze, and he refused.

The president met with Obama before he submitted an application for full UN membership to the Security Council in September.

"I told him I am authorized to go to the Security Council."

The US president voiced his objection to the Palestinian bid, Abbas said.

"I told him this is up to the United States and you have sovereignty and an independent state and you can say whatever you want. I didn't surprise them at all. Everything I did they knew about.

"No one can blame me and say that he was surprised."

The US Congress decided in August to block aid to the Palestinian Authority in response to its bid to join the UN, and Abbas said the move would make a difficult financial situation harder.

"Our financial situation is very difficult and we are living on aid. If there was no occupation in our land we would have had self sufficiency because we have brains, tourism and agriculture.

"But the situation now is difficult and if we don't receive aid our situation will be harder. The congress is talking about cutting the support. I don't know to what extent they are serious.

"We are trying to face this. We have faced this previously and were able to deal with it rationally."

Chief of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad last week downplayed fears that his government would collapse without US contributions, saying the PA had significantly reduced dependence on foreign aid.

Security Council envoys tasked with reviewing the president's application for statehood recognition at the UN will hold their final meeting on Nov. 11, diplomats said on Wednesday.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017