Ramallah – Critical voices that include a jailed senior Fatah leader, emerged this week urging the Palestinian leadership to reword a UN proposal to end Israeli occupation, less than a week after a resolution was submitted at the 15-member Security Council to that effect.
In a letter from an Israeli prison, Marwan Barghouti criticised the UN draft, urging the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to change it to reflect “a commitment to the people’s inalienable national rights”.
On December 17, Jordan submitted a draft UN Security Council resolution on behalf of the Palestinians, calling for an end to the Israeli occupation by 2017, and setting a one-year timeline for peace talks. The proposal went through a series of changes that took into account a separate text drawn up by France, with Germany and Britain’s help.
Convicted on multiple murder charges arising from his role in the second Intifada, Barghouti has so far served 12 years in an Israeli prison.
He has long supported using the UN as a tool for diplomacy, but he said the current version of this resolution represented an “unjustified fallback which will adversely affect the Palestinian position”.
The Fatah official, who enjoys broad popularity among Palestinians, said the broader Palestinian leadership should reword the resolution to reflect the illegality of the settlements.
Figures released by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics last week showed that the Israeli settler population grew by almost 23 percent in the last four years, during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s time in office.
The population in Israel only grew by about 10 percent. There are approximately 200,000 settlers living in East Jerusalem, which proponents of the two-state solution envision as a capital for a future Palestinian state.
Barghouti criticised the proposal for failing to mention Palestinian prisoners. “The plight of prisoners may not be part of the final status issues, but it should be mentioned in any resolution because prisoners’ freedom is a right and a precondition for peace,” he wrote. There are approximately 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
Accord without preconditioning it on the release of a single prisoner, and without including any reference, albeit a minute one, to prisoners.”]
In the past few months, the Fatah leader has been vocal about disagreements with the PLO’s upper echelon on many issues, including the latest move at the UN. In April, he accused the Palestinian leadership of neglecting the prisoner issue.
“Never has a national liberation movement neglected and ignored the issue of the release of prisoners such as the one in the Palestinian case,” wrote Barghouti in a communique.
“The PLO signed the Oslo [I] Accord without preconditioning it on the release of a single prisoner, and without including any reference, albeit a minute one, to prisoners.”
The Palestinians have been threatening to go to the UN for months, demanding a timetable for the end of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he was open to further consultation on the draft, another indication that a vote on the resolution was not imminent.
“The current draft resolution does not meet the minimum afforded to Palestinians by international law,” said Hani al-Masri, a Ramallah-based political pundit.
“It excludes using the Palestinians trump cards, namely going to the ICC and turning to resistance and boycott. All it does is put all the Palestinians’ eggs in the basket of negotiations.”
Israel had labelled the UN move a “gimmick” that would only aggravate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “Certainly this [draft] will not hasten an agreement because without Israel’s consent, nothing will change,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement.
According to Foreign Policy, US Secretary of State John Kerry revealed that two Israeli leaders – Hatnua Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and former President Shimon Peres – had asked him to stop the vote before Israeli elections took place in March, because it could pave the way for a more right-wing, anti-peace government.
Kerry did not rule out the possibility of Washington’s support for a more tempered version of the proposal, which would exclude a timetable for ending Israel’s military control, and a settlement of hotly contested issues, such as Jerusalem and refugees’ right of return, in the run-up to future talks.