The US veto of a Palestinian anti-settlement bid at the UN served America’s short-term goals but would harm its strategic interests, senior Fatah official Mohammad Shtayyeh said Saturday.
The Central Committee member told Ma’an that by torpedoing the UN resolution condemning illegal settlement building the US contradicted its declared support of change and democracy in the Arab world.
The Palestinian decision to pursue the motion stemmed from “free feelings and free Arab feelings,” he said.
The US veto proved President Barack Obama’s administration was powerless to exert pressure on Israel, the former minister said, adding that Washington lost a historic opportunity to prove to the Arab world and the international community that it was impartial and moderate.
President Mahmoud Abbas pursued the motion despite a last minute personal appeal from Obama to abandon the resolution.
Asked whether he thought the US would cut off financial to support to the Palestinian Authority following Abbas’ refusal of the request, Shtayyeh noted that Washington had threatened to withdraw aid several times in the past.
Shtayyeh said that when Abbas asked Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to form a government, the US threatened sanctions. When the president agreed to reconcile with Hamas, the US once again said it would cancel financial support, he added. Washington warned it would cut off funding a third time when Abbas participated in the Arab League summit in Damascus, according to the PA official.
However, the PA’s decisions would continue to be guided by the interests of the people and the Palestinian cause, he said, adding that Israel and the US had been publicly exposed.
From now on, Shtayyeh said, it would be difficult for the US to convince the Arab street that it supported democracy.
“As for threatening to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, I believe that will help neither US nor Israeli interests. I think they just try to put the PA under pressure.”
Commenting on the PA’s calls to finalize reconciliation with Hamas, Shtayyeh confirmed that the PA leadership was seriously urging Hamas to take the opportunity.
“Polls will be the gate to achieve national unity and we still prefer that Egypt sponsors reconciliation regardless of who the new Egyptian leadership will be,” he added. Shtayyeh noted that Egypt has supported the Palestinian cause since the days of Jamal Abdul-Nasser.
Ma’an asked Shtayyeh whether there had been any contact between PA officials and Qatar since the Doha-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera published leaked PLO documents. Several high-level PLO officials accused Qatari leaders of using the channel to push an anti-PA agenda.
“As far as I know, there have been no contacts, and Al-Jazeera has incited against Palestinian leaders,” Shtayyeh said.
“We had no problem with the revelation of the papers, but we wondered why Qatar was inciting against us,” he added.
Abbas issued a decree on February 13 banning local media and officials from slandering the emir of Qatar and the emirate’s government.
Shtayyeh said the directive was issued in the interest of protecting Arab unity, and noted that officials had complied with the order and stopped criticizing Qatar and “its Al-Jazeera.”