Opposition to Trump’s Israel policies unites Fatah, PLO

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas chairs a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 3. (AFP)
Updated 05 February 2018

Opposition to Trump’s Israel policies unites Fatah, PLO

AMMAN: Palestine’s often-fractious political scene has united behind the proactive policies of President Mahmoud Abbas in his reaction to recent decisions by US President Donald Trump and his administration.
Following a meeting of Fatah’s Central Committee on Sunday, committee member Abbas Zaki told Arab News that Fatah greatly admired Abbas’ recent work for the Palestinian cause.
“We really appreciated the non-stop actions of the president as he stands firm for Palestinian rights and tries to minimize the damage caused by any refusal to cooperate with America’s unilateral policies.”
Fatah’s central committee issued a statement welcoming the decision by the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to create a higher committee to implement the decisions of the Palestine Central Council.
The statement rejected America’s recent actions and called on the international community “to agree to a new mechanism that is able to establish a basis for any political process that can lead to a political process and peace.”
The PLO issued its own statement on Sunday, in which it said that the new higher committee will look into suspending recognition of Israel until Israel recognizes Palestine in accordance with the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. The PLO and Israel exchanged letters of recognition on the eve of the signing of the September 13, 1993 Oslo Accords.
Neither the PLO or Fatah made any direct reference in their statements to suspending security coordination with Israel.
Explaining why Fatah met after the PLO executive committee and not before — as is usually the case — Zaki said: “We are not in a revolutionary phase now and we need to be careful during this sensitive period.”
A source close to the PLO claimed Abbas held the meeting of the PLO executive committee first because he has more influence on it.
“Some factions of the PLO receive monthly stipends and therefore the president is able to pass the decisions he wants much more easily within the PLO executive committee than within Fatah,” the source told Arab News.
Omar Kullab, a Jordanian-Palestinian columnist with roots in Gaza, told Arab News that emotions are currently running high in Fatah cadres, particularly in Gaza.
“Rank and file Fatah personnel in Gaza are very upset and want to end the charade called the peace process,” he said. “They want Fatah to make decisions that encourage resistance to the Israeli occupation.”
In its statement on Sunday, Fatah did praise Palestinians who stood up to Israeli settlers. It also called on Palestinians to document cases of land theft so that they can be presented as war crimes at the International Criminal Court.
Both Fatah and the PLO vehemently condemned the Trump administration’s recent actions in their statement, included its unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, its threat to cut off funding of any country that voted in favor of a draft resolution asking the US to reverse that decision, and its significant reduction in America’s financial contribution to the United Nations.

Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

Updated 21 March 2019

Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

  • Turkish president has threatened to ‘send home in coffins’ visitors from Australia, New Zealand
  • Aussie and NZ leaders want Turkey to explain the ‘vile’ and ‘offensive’ remarks

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was condemned on Wednesday for “vile, offensive and reckless” comments after last week’s Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks.

Australia summoned the Turkish ambassador in Canberra to explain the remarks, and New Zealand dispatched its foreign minister to Ankara to “set the record straight, face to face.”

Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after he shot dead 50 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Erdogan, in election campaign rallies for his AK Party, urged New Zealand to restore the death penalty and said Turkey would make the killer pay if New Zealand did not.

He said anti-Muslim Australians who came to Turkey would be “sent back in coffins, like their grandfathers at Gallipoli,” and he accused Australian and New Zealand forces of invading Turkey during the First World War “because it is Muslim land.”

But an international affairs scholar in Riyadh said Erdogan’s comments should not be taken as representative of Muslims. 

"He is a propagandist and an unpredictable politician,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “He keeps saying these things and then he issues an apology. Right now, he is making these incendiary comments to win elections.”

It was inappropriate behavior for a head of state, Al-Shehri said. “Which president would use such language and issue these kind of comments?”

In his speech, Erdogan said that the Gallipoli peninsula campaign in 1915 was in fact an attempt by British colonial forces to relieve their Russian allies. The attack was a military disaster, and more than 11,000 Australian and New Zealand forces were killed. Thousands of people from both countries travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services, and the anniversary is marked on Anzac Day every April 25.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.

“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn.” Morrison described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the white supremacist attack as “vile.” He accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to forge peace between the two countries.

A memorial at Gallipoli carries Ataturk’s words: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets ... after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her deputy, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, would travel to Turkey to seek clarification of Erdogan’s comments. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face,” she said.