American-sponsored peace process over, Palestinian Central Council told

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AMMAN: Delegates at the Palestinian Central Council meeting have backed a call by President Mahmoud Abbas to give up on the American-sponsored peace process with Israel.

Representatives agreed with the Palestinian president that the US has disqualified itself from the process by unilaterally supporting Israel on the issues of Jerusalem and refugees.

The second day of the council meeting is expected to continue till the late hours of Monday in closed sessions.

Mohammed Daraghmeh, a lecturer at Bir Zeit University and a veteran journalist, told Arab News that the Palestinian president has declared an end to the peace process. “My information is that the speech reflected a public protest against Trump but in general it is clear that the peace process is over and that Abbas will not return to it.”

According to Daraghmeh, the so-called ultimate deal is “nothing more than half of the West Bank, without Jerusalem and without the right (of return) for (Palestinian) refugees.”

In Gaza, Amjad Yaghi, a columnist for the Washington-based Al-Monitor, told Arab News that he was happy to hear President Abbas name names of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders who were an obstacle to national unity.

“I think it was a good speech, even though some here in Gaza wanted a much stronger speech with specific actions especially aimed at reducing the siege on Gaza,” he said.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad boycotted the meeting, saying that they were opposed to holding such meetings under the thumb of the Israeli occupiers.

Issa Amro, a nonviolence Palestinian leader from Hebron, told Arab News that President Abbas’ support for nonviolent peaceful resistance was important but not new.

“If the leadership is serious about supporting nonviolence they need to understand that it takes the same effort and resources as military resistance. It needs recruitment, training and awareness at all levels, starting from schools and into all levels of activities, to be able to reach the pinnacle of nonviolence resistance with nationwide civil disobedience.”

Amro said that such efforts must be integrated into the strategies of all Palestinian movements and that it was not enough to say the words and do nothing about them. “If they are serious then his own movement must be involved and Abbas must act as a leader, not as a bureaucrat.”

Hamadeh Faraneh, a member of the Palestinian National Council, praised President Abbas’ speech and called for a convening of the Palestine National Council (PNC).

The Amman-based member of the PNC told Arab News that it was possible that a session would be held in 2018. “It will not be easy to hold a session this year because there are many issues that need to be resolved before holding a session of the National Council, but it is possible.”

Faraneh also expressed support for calls to work with Israeli leftwing and peace activists. “Some Israelis are paying a high price for their support of Palestinian rights, some are refusing to serve in the Israeli army and are being attacked for their support of peace with Palestinians.”

Amro was, however, critical of the calls by Abbas to reach out to Israelis, saying that there was little to be accomplished with a society that had largely turned rightwing. “Yes, there are a few Israelis genuinely supporting us but the majority are not, and what we need to do is work with world Jewry to show them that Israel is practicing apartheid against Palestinians.”

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