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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Abbas: I did not say intifada. This has existed for some time. The popular and peaceful resistance is present in Bil’in and Ni’lin and elsewhere in Palestinian cities adjacent to the Wall, and it is carried out every week by Palestinians, Israelis, and foreign volunteers. We encourage these popular and peaceful protests, which are not against international law, or anyone for that matter, but only against the occupation, while using peaceful methods. What is required of us? Now, our Arab brethren have taught us with their uprisings and their Spring. They talk about the peacefulness of their protests. And indeed, this has proven to be the most effective way for people to attain their rights.Skip to next paragraph
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Dergham: Are you afraid [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu may carry out his threats of taking measures, as it seems he is making threats that may even amount to military action?
Abbas: He can, without making any threats, he can do anything on the military level because we cannot confront him on that level, nor do we want to. If he likes, the doors will be open to him.
Dergham: Do you fear that US financial aid to you may be suspended?
Abbas: There is talk of suspending aid, but at least the Americans should tell us why, if they want to suspend aid, then why. But we shall cross that bridge when we get to it.
Dergham: Are you currently on good terms with Syria? And why do you not conduct a visit to Iran? The first to congratulate you on your speech were the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the emir of Qatar. What is the nature of your relations at present, while bearing in mind that there is an Iranian-Turkish competition over the region, and what is the nature of your relations with Iran and Syria currently?
Abbas: I think, when we went to the conference, there was the Iranian delegation who welcomed us. The same can be said of the Syrian delegation with whom we’ve met.
Abbas: Yes, we met yesterday, we more than once met with the Syrian delegation, both in the General Assembly or at the home of the emir of Qatar. Then today, [Syrian Vice Foreign Minister] Faisal Mekdad came and congratulated me. We are not on bad terms at all with any side, and we maintain good relations with everyone. With regard to Erdogan, our relationship is excellent, and our relationship with the emir of Qatar is excellent as well. We have no problems with anyone. For this reason, everyone came to congratulate us and greet us. If a certain side did not want to do so, then no one is putting pressure on anyone to congratulate, greet, or say good words about the speech.
Dergham: Is there anything that makes you afraid?
Abbas: Of whom should I be afraid? If Netanyahu wants to attack us, then welcome. If he wants to annul agreements, then welcome. He is free to do whatever he wishes because he is the occupier, not us. He occupies our land, and he is able to do what he wants. But we will not submit to what he wants. We shall oppose him by all peaceful means.