Palestinian Envoy in Washington: US is Trying to Twist Our Arms to Give up our Rights
By Munir K. Nasser
A high-ranking Palestinian diplomat in Washington warned that any tampering with the issue of Jerusalem is unacceptable.
Hassan Abdel Rahman, the Palestinian Representative in Washington, was responding to President Clinton’s remarks on Israeli television on Friday in which he warned Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in blunt terms of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if he presses ahead with his intent to declare an independent state in September.
Abdel Rahman insisted that the Palestinians have the right to declare a Palestinian state on September 13 “because the term period ends on September 13 and we have the right to declare a Palestinian state.”
The diplomat told Albawaba.com in an interview that any attempt to preempt the negotiations on Jerusalem with measures like moving the US Embassy is only going to complicate the search for an agreement and renders the achievement of a peaceful settlement more difficult. “It will torpedo the whole process and will discredit the United States in the Arab and Muslim worlds," he stressed.
When asked about the steps taken by Congress to cut aid to the Palestinians if they declare a state in September, he said “that reaction is very dangerous because it is an attempt to twist the arms of the Palestinians, which is not going to work.” He described the move as “ill advised” and called on Congress to encourage the Palestinians more by pressuring Israel to accept international legality rather than punish the Palestinians for not giving up their rights.
Abdel Rahman, who participated partly in the Camp David discussions, said the US should not be blaming Palestinian President Yasser Arafat for the failure of the negotiations. He argued that Arafat has stuck to what is acceptable internationally and to the terms of reference to the peace agreement. He added that “Barak moved forward from an intransigent position to a less intransigent position."
Barak moved from zero to 50 and we give him credit for that, but he has to move some more," he stressed. "Israel did not make any concessions before sitting at the table. We had made all the concessions before sitting at the table. We recognized Israel and its right to exist on 78 percent of historic Palestine. We were under the notion that we already made the deal, not that we were to negotiate on the remaining 22 percent, and that includes east Jerusalem.”
He said the Palestinians will recognize west Jerusalem if Israel recognizes east Jerusalem. He emphasized that it has to be mutual step on both sides. “But sovereignty over east Jerusalem must be recognized by Israel,” he stated.
The Palestinian diplomat said it is up to the Israelis to resume the negotiations. “We are ready to continue but on the basis of international legality and resolutions 242 and 194,” he declared.
When asked about criticism directed at the Palestinians for not taking enough public relations initiatives to explain the Palestinian position to the American people, Abdel Rahman said it is not a matter of public relations.
“When you are up against the Administration of the United States, public relations become too difficult to do,” he explained. “It is the President of the United States and the agencies of the United States who are against us. It is difficult because it is the Israelis vs. Palestinians,” he said – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)