Friday, October 30, 2020

Obama says settlements arenít the issue

By George Mandarin - March 21, 2013
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [US President Barack Obama] [Mahmoud Abbas] [Mustafa Bargouthi] [Ramallah]

Protest against US President Obama's visit in Ramallah. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.

“Obama has seriously regressed from his previous position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict of several years ago,” says Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative. 

In a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas today, US President Barack Obama called on both sides to return to negotiations without preconditions. 

“If the PA enters into negotiations without a complete freeze of settlement activities and without clear terms of reference, it would be equivalent to political suicide,” Baghouti told the Palestinian Monitor earlier this afternoon.

Maan News Agency quoted Obama as saying during the press conference, “That’s not to say settlements aren’t important...that’s to say if we resolve the [main] problems, then settlements will be resolved.”

President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking directly after Obama, boldly reaffirmed that the Palestinian position on illegal Israeli settlements has not changed.  

It isn't just our perception that settlements are illegal,” Abbas said, “It is a global perspective…We are asking for nothing outside the international legitimacy.” 

Mustafa Barghouti went even further in condemning Obama’s directive: “Asking the Palestinian Authority to re-enter into negotiations without preconditions is akin to Einstein’s famous mantra, 'Insanity is to keep doing the same thing and to expect different results.’”

Barghouti went on to say that it is clear President Obama is fully adopting the Israeli narrative and is working to force the PA to capitulate to Israeli demands. 

“Not stopping settlement expansion will facilitate the swift death of two state solution,” said Barghouti, “Especially when one takes into account the presence of the most extreme and racist government in the history of Israel.”

During this afternoon’s press conference, Obama praised the work of President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s work towards creating the institutions necessary for a Palestinian state and insisted that he is “deeply committed to the creation of an independent sovereign state of Palestine.”

Obama also recognized Palestinian efforts of popular nonviolent resistance. “I think of the villages that hold peaceful protests because they understand the importance of nonviolence,” said Obama. 

Obama is due to spend the remainder of the afternoon in Ramallah, meeting young members of the community at the Al-Bireh Youth Center before heading back to Jerusalem to deliver a speech to Israeli college students this evening. 

He is scheduled to visit the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Friday before embarking on the final leg of his three-day visit in the region, stopping in both the Jordanian capital of Amman and the ancient city of Petra. 

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