Palestinian factions react to Obama’s speech 20May11 May 21, 2011

Ma’an News Agency -  20 May 2011

As President Mahmoud Abbas called an urgent meeting to discuss US President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East, several Palestinian factions dismissed the US leader’s remarks as evidence of Washington’s bias toward Israel.

An official Palestinian response will be formed after an emergency session of Palestinian leaders, and after consultations with Arab leaders, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

PLO official Saeb Erekat said Abbas appreciated Obama’s efforts to reach a comprehensive solution to the conflict and his remarks on the right to self-determination and dignity.

But Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Friday that Obama’s speech amounted to “throwing dust in the eyes,” and that the US president needed to take “concrete steps” to protect Palestinians’ rights rather than adding “slogans.”

Hamas, he said, calls on the Palestinian leadership not to hang its hopes on the speech and to coordinate with Palestinian factions to confront “US-Israeli arrogance.”

Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shibab said the president’s speech revealed a continuation of old policies, and was a “renewed attempt to market an illusion.”

Palestinians had heard the same promises many times before and did not trust the US administration, he added.

The US had failed to protect “the thrones of its allies from the masses in the Arab world” and would also fail to protect Israel, the Islamic Jihad official added.

Palestinian People’s Party general-secretary Bassam As-Salhi said Obama demonstrated a clear bias toward Israel, particularly by trying to obstruct Palestinian efforts to seek UN recognition of a state.

Dismissing Palestinians’ intention to seek recognition of their state at the UN, Obama said “Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.”

As-Salhi said Obama gave “dangerous hints” that he aimed to pursue an interim solution to the occupation.

The president also failed to condemn illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, As-Salhi said. The last round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations collapsed within weeks over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to extend a partial freeze on illegal construction on occupied Palestinian land.

But Obama tried to equate Palestinian and Israeli responsibility on the breakdown of talks, the PPP official said, adding that the president “evaded” the implementation of UN resolutions.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also said Obama’s speech was biased toward Israel, and ignored the need to respond to democratic changes across the region.

It was out of sync with US claims to value freedom, democracy and justice, PFLP said in a statement.

Obama had subdued to Israeli pressure and ignored the legitimate demands of Palestinians, the leftist faction said, particularly by trying to prevent Palestine seeking recognition at the UN as a member of the international community.

Continued attempts by the US administration to restart the peace process reflected Washington’s growing need to distract attention from Israel’s invasions and assaults on Palestinian people, PFLP said.

While the president applauded uprisings in Arab countries in demand of human rights, he said an end to the Israeli occupation “must be negotiated.”

PFLP accused the US and Israel of seeking a return to talks to avoid being forced to comply with international law and the Geneva Conventions.

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