Ramallah, occupied West Bank – The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been condemned by opposition political parties, including Gaza-based Hamas, over its decision to withdraw a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council against illegal Israeli settlement activity.
A vote on the resolution was meant to take place on Monday but the item was scrapped, apparently under United States pressure, and replaced with a watered-down, symbolic statement.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Reports emerged that the PA had backtracked under a deal with US officials that included promises of a financial aid package as well as the temporary suspension of announcements on new Israeli settlement units and Palestinian home demolitions.
Israel has continued to expand settlements in violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords signed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Settlements in occupied territories are considered illegal under international laws.
“The deal that the Palestinian Authority made in return for retracting its position only means that it is continuing in the series of selling illusions to our people and being dependent on the American administration, which has been complicit with the occupation against our people and their rights for decades,” said a joint statement released on Tuesday night by all major political parties.
It was signed by the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad political parties, as well as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and the Palestinian National Initiative, among others, not including the Fatah ruling party that dominates the PA.
The PA, which governs the occupied West Bank since the Oslo Accords, has not released any official statement about the reports, but local media quoted a Fatah official as saying on Monday that “the steps that will be taken by the Palestinian Authority will serve only the interests of the Palestinian people”.
Al Jazeera reached out to officials from the PA for a response but did not receive one by the time of publication of this article.
“This popularly, nationally and politically rejected deal came during the escalation of the Palestinian struggle against the occupation, its right-wing fascist government, and its brutal behavior aimed at completely eliminating the Palestinian individual wherever he may be,” the statement continues, adding that the “approach taken by the official leadership” is having a “devastating impact on the rights and sacrifices of our people.”
US veto at the UN
The US has criticised Israel for expanding settlements but has opposed a UN resolution, shielding its closest ally in the Middle East from diplomatic heat. The US has in the past vetoed at least four UNSC resolutions critical of Israel.
Israel, accused of imposing a system of apartheid by leading human rights organisations like Amnesty International, receives at least $3.8bn of US aid annually.
The situation on the ground has become increasingly tense over the past few months under Israel’s new extreme right-wing government that was sworn in late last year. Since coming into office, it has taken steps to further ignite tensions including significantly increasing home demolitions in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and carrying out several large deadly raids in Palestinian cities.
Most recently, on February 13, the Israeli government approved the “legalisation” of nine settlement outposts and announced plans to advance thousands of new illegal settlement units, which prompted the UNSC draft resolution.
“The time has come to stop and retreat, to stop more political disasters against our cause, and to go towards a unified national strategy agreed upon by all Palestinians, to rebuild the Palestinian political system on the principle of everyone’s participation,” the statement said.
A report by the Associated Press published on Sunday, said the deal that was made with the PA included a “White House meeting for [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas with President Joe Biden, movement on reopening the American consulate in Jerusalem, and a significant aid package”.
Another report published by the Axios news website said that in addition, “Israel agreed to several economic steps that will increase Palestinian tax revenues by more than $60m a year,” and to reduce its raids on Palestinian cities and villages.
About 700,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The PA, which has pockets of limited control, claims the 1967-occupied territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip as a future Palestinian state.