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Global Viewpoint

Mahmoud Abbas: 'Of whom should I be afraid?'

In an interview, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas discusses the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the UN; peaceful opposition to Israel; relations with Syria, Turkey, and Iran; Obama's words vs. actions; and his willingness to return to negotiations.

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Dergham: Is there a scenario whereby upon the arrival of the application to the Security Council, a decision on it is deferred, only deferred, until the European efforts along with those of the Arabs at the General Assembly are concluded, so that Palestine would be given the membership of an observing state but not full membership?

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Abbas: We are not currently looking into this issue. Certainly, we reject any kind of delay or obstruction.

Dergham: If the issue comes to an end with the US veto, Palestine would not have the status or position of a state, and would not be able to head to the ICC [International Criminal Court]. What would you have gained then?

Abbas: The United States, the bastion of democracy, would do wrong to the Palestinian people if it denies them the right to liberty and self-determination. It will have to bear responsibility for its own actions.

Dergham: But there are those who say, Why risk losing an American president who sympathizes with you and your cause?

Abbas: It is the US president who spoke of the necessity to halt settlement, and it is he who spoke of the ’67 borders. He has to fulfill his words, at the very least.

Dergham: Has [French] President Nicolas Sarkozy become the alternative when he put forward detailed proposals?

Abbas: We say that we appreciate what he proposed, but our official answer will be given after we consult the Palestinian leadership. We present everything before the latter in detail, and it is this leadership that decides upon the appropriate position.

Dergham: Is the Quartet over? Are you disappointed with the stances of the Quartet?

Abbas: Unfortunately, the Quartet has failed throughout the past year in issuing a statement, despite the fact that in the past it indeed issued good ones. But this year, since September and to date, it has failed. Twice it has failed to meet, and in the third time, it was the Quartet that rejected American proposals, not us. Russia, Europe, and the United Nations rejected what the Americans proposed. This means that what the Americans offered was unacceptable to anyone. Such proposals talk about a Jewish state, about the settlement blocs, as though they were a fait accompli, and about security that would remain in Israel’s control. After that, the Quartet envoy, Tony Blair, carried to us the ideas that the Quartet itself had rejected. For this reason, I told President Obama that we reject totally such ideas.

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