Palestinians Plan Major New Diplomatic Offensive

New Push To Condemn Settlements and Press for ICC Charges

By Haaretz

Published January 01, 2012.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy Isaac Molho will meet with top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman Tuesday for preliminary talks aimed at setting an agenda for peace negotiations, even as the Palestinians are preparing a diplomatic campaign that aims to put Israel under “a real international siege.”

Among those who have been pushing hard for the meeting Tuesday, the first official meeting between Israeli and Palestinian representatives in several months, are Jordan’s King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and the Quartet’s Mideast envoy, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Senior Israeli officials said there was very little chance that the meeting would lead to the renewal of negotiations.

The diplomatic offensive the Palestinians are planning to launch later this month could include pushing the UN Security Council to pass a resolution condemning settlement construction and urging the International Criminal Court to try Israel for war crimes related to its 2008-2009 incursion into the Gaza Strip.

2012 “will be the start of an unprecedented diplomatic campaign on the part of the Palestinian leadership, and it will be a year of pressure on Israel that will put it under a real international siege,” said Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’ath, according to an Israeli Foreign Ministry document. “The campaign will be similar to the one waged against apartheid in South Africa.”

According to information that has reached Israel, the Palestinians are considering several steps as part of their campaign:

  • Asking the UN Security Council in February to pass a resolution that would condemn settlement construction and impose international sanctions on Israel. If a resolution were brought to a vote, all Security Council members other than the United States would be expected to vote in favor.

  • Urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to try Israel for war crimes related to Operation Cast Lead. If that fails, Palestinian officials are likely to encourage Palestinian citizens to file lawsuits against Israel in Western courts.

  • Pushing for the implementation the articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention that ban the construction of communities and transfer of populations in occupied territory. The Palestinians have been trying for some time now to persuade the Swiss government to convene the signatories on the document for a special debate on the subject of applying the Geneva Convention in the West Bank.

  • Asking the UN General Assembly or the UN Human Rights Council to send an international fact-finding committee to look into the settlement issue.

  • Renewing efforts in the UN Security Council to secure full-membership status for Palestine, or asking the UN General Assembly for status as a nonmember state. A similar move was suspended last October after UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, accepted Palestine as a member, in response to which Israel froze Palestinian tax revenues.

  • Organizing mass rallies against Israel in the West Bank, as part of a non-violent popular uprising. In reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah, the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshal, said the two movements would focus their activities on a popular uprising in an effort to draw international attention to the Israeli occupation.

The diplomatic campaign is expected to begin January 26, which marks the end of the three-month period the Quartet alloted to Israel and the Palestinian Authority for resuming talks and presenting substantive proposals on borders and security arrangements.

For more, go to Haaretz.com


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