By Daoud Kuttab
2 January 2018
Palestinian officials have blamed “anti-Palestinian rhetoric” in the US for the recent call from the right-wing Israeli Likud party for the annexation of the Occupied Territories.
Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the executive council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told Arab News that Likud’s decision is part of US President Donald Trump’s “ultimate deal” idea.
“We have seen, over the last few weeks, a visible manifestation of the US ultimate deal, beginning with the PLO office in Washington, the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and now we are seeing the details of the ultimate deal on the ground in the occupied territories.”
Salim Zannoun, speaker of the Palestine National Council, issued a statement from Amman calling the Likud decision an attack on Palestinians’ rights.
“This decision represents the height of terrorism and a violation of the rights of the Palestinian people,” the statement said.
“It is a representation of the arrogant colonial and extremist policy that is deeply engraved in the minds of the Likud party and its leadership, including their extremist leader Netanyahu.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly declared his opposition to his party’s decision, but Erekat believes he is lying.
“This is his idea and he is continuing his tactics of playing word games with the international community,” he said.
The Fatah movement issued a statement from Ramallah on Sunday night calling the Israeli party’s decision “a provocation.”
“This is a violation of international law, including the UN Security Council Resolution 2334,” the statement said, adding that settlements are illegal and the Israeli government should know that. “It is crossing a red line which will lead to catastrophe and a situation of insecurity.”
On Jan. 1, the 53rd anniversary of the National Palestinian Liberation Movement (Fatah), the party blamed Trump for the deterioration of the situation and for encouraging Israeli extremists.
“Unfortunately, Israel has taken advantage of the unacceptable decision regarding Jerusalem, which is in violation of international law, and has used it to further extend its action by declaring war on the Palestinian people, Palestinian lands and Palestinian holy places,” Fatah said.
While Palestinian officials issued public condemnations, the Likud decision produced a variety of social-media reactions, some sarcastically calling for a similar reaction.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Israel that his country would this year take legal action against its “grave and systematic violations of international law,” adding that Palestine would also “revisit agreements signed with Israel.”
“Forget about the 1967 borders,” wrote Gaza resident Yousef Abu Saleh. “Instead, our central committee should call for the annexation of all (Israeli) territories to the state of Palestine.”
Respected Palestinian journalist Mohammed Daraghmeh wrote on his Facebook page that the modern Palestinian national movement, both in its secular and Islamic forms, has reached a dead end.
“The secular movement has become an authority and has its own political calculations and interests that it needs to defend, while the Islamic movement in Gaza has entered into a losing armed race with Israel that it will never win and has, as a result, been under a severe siege that has (left its people in) poverty, and physical and mental sickness.”
Daraghmeh says that hope now rests with the new generation living outside major cities, who are in daily confrontations with Israeli settlers and soldiers. “They will have their own leaders and will draw their own rules of engagement,” he wrote.
In a press statement on Monday, Abbas claimed that Likud’s decision to call for annexation “could not be taken without the full support of the US administration, who have refused to condemn Israeli colonial settlements as well as the systematic attacks and crimes of the Israeli occupation against the people of Palestine.”