Talk to Al Jazeera
Nabil Shaath: 'I've seen peace work'
Senior Palestinian negotiator talks of PLO's commitment to non-violence and eventually returning to negotiations.
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2011 13:56

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president, is set to call for statehood in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.

The United States, a major source of financing and aid for (PA), opposes this unilateral call for statehood and has warned of repercussions.

If Abbas makes his case for full membership, the United States, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, said it will block the move on the grounds that only a resumption of a two-decade-old negotiation process with Israel can advance the cause of peace.

Nabil Shaath, senior negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), has been at the heart of the Palestinian effort for more than 25 years.

Shaath, who has dealt with the Israelis, the Americans and the Europeans, discussed the situation with Al Jazeera.

"It's utterly ridiculous to negotiate with the Israelis an exchange of land for peace, when there's no peace and the land is vanishing peace by peace.

"We're at an impasse, the impasse today is caused obviously by a total inability of United States or lack of will by the United States to get the Israelis to the negotiating table. For 20 years we were embedded to an American driven peace process.

He highlighted the importance of PLO's decison to follow a non-violent struggle.

"The force of public pressure totally non-violent, is immense, it was demonstrated by Gandhi in his famous struggle against the British Empire, it was demonstrated by Mandela in South Africa, by Martin Luther King in United States, it works.

"It will put the kind of necessary pressure that the Americans fail to do, in order to bring us to a situation where going back to negotiations becomes real, productive and useful."

"Nobody is seeking absolute justice, as absolute justice at this time is unachievable. We're seeking relative justice.

In this interview, he also speaks about how important it is to give peace a chance.

"I've seen how peace could work....I've seen how the Israelis can also be drawn into hope, a real hope that brings real results.

"It is doable, it is possible, I have seen it work and I have seen it fail. And I have seen you have got to be dynamic to use variety of means to achieve it."

Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.