RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Authority has been criticized after the US managed to forestall a contentious UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel for settlement expansion and demanded a halt to future activity.
Palestinian political opposition parties accused the authority and President Mahmoud Abbas of wasting an opportunity to embarrass the Israelis for their occupation on the world stage.
Ahmed Guneim, a prominent Fatah leader from Jerusalem, told Arab News: “Unfortunately, we did not learn from our previous mistakes, and we still believe the American promises.”
Palestinians have been pushing for a vote on a resolution condemning the settlements after Israel announced the legalization of nine outposts in the West Bank and approved the planning and construction of 10,000 new housing units in existing areas.
There is anger and frustration among Palestinians as they believe the authority has bowed to US pressure and backed away from its request for a vote in the Security Council against the settlements.
Some commentators accuse Abbas of being the victim of American “political tricks in exchange for fake promises.”
They believe the Palestinian president has wasted an opportunity to inflict global embarrassment on Israel.
Israeli and US officials said the Palestinian Authority had agreed to suspend its efforts to press for a Security Council vote on settlements in the occupied West Bank following US pressure and mediation.
Nasser Al-Kidwa, former representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization at the UN, told Arab News: “This step will weaken Palestinian foreign diplomacy.
“Next time we will not find a country that votes on our side because of the lack of clarity in our political strategy and the state of confusion that governs individual Palestinian diplomatic work.”
Israel has said it will rein in the approval of new West Bank settlement outposts, but Al-Kidwa said thousands of units that had received prior approval were likely to be built.
Diplomats and observers said the US was concerned that any confrontation at the UN — even if it ended in a veto — would have led to further escalation in issues between Israelis and Palestinians ahead of the sensitive Passover and Ramadan periods.
However, Palestinian officials said that the US would support a presidential statement by the Security Council which condemned Israeli settlements.
Palestinian political activist Amer Hamdan told Arab News: “What the Palestinian Authority has done is a kind of bargaining over Palestinian political interests in exchange for economic interests, bearing in mind that Israel always promises the Palestinian people a lot and gives nothing.”
He questioned whether the authority had the right to decide the matter on behalf of the Palestinians, without consulting them first.
He added: “Has the Palestinian cause become a subject of bargaining in exchange for economic facilities?”
Guneim claimed that the US “sells illusion to the Palestinian Authority and gives Israel a cover for its aggressive policies toward the Palestinians.”
Bassim Naiem, a Hamas political department spokesperson in Gaza, said in a statement that the Palestinian Authority’s leadership was once again playing the same frivolous game of “selling the illusion” by yielding to US pressure.
The statement read: “It is time for all the patriots to agree on a national strategy to isolate this leadership and rebuild the Palestinian political system to lead a revolution that achieves the aspirations of our people for freedom.”