- Nasser al-Kidwa, Foreign Minister of the Palestinian
Authority, has called for the EU to impose economic and other international
sanctions to force Israel to stop settlement expansion and further construction
of the separation barrier in the occupied West Bank.
- In a marked shift of strategy, the foreign minister Nasser
al Kidwa served notice that the Palestinian Authority was seeking a special
meeting of the UN General Assembly to draw up ways of enforcing the International
Court of Justice's declaration exactly a year ago that the barrier was
- The new moves, expected to be unveiled today, came as
the Israeli Cabinet decided to accelerate completion of the barrier's encirclement
of Jerusalem. The section round Jerusalem, which is now to be completed
by September 1, will effectively cut it off from the West Bank and separate
55,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem from the city.
- In an interview with the Independent, Mr al-Kidwa called
on the EU to bar the import of goods produced in West Bank settlements,
refuse visas to Israelis who live in settlements, and to consider barring
companies like the US giant Caterpillar from operating in member states
if it continues to provide the Israeli Army with bulldozers for use on
the barrier and settlements in the West Bank.
- Mr al-Kidwa, nephew of the late Yasser Arafat, and a
fast-emerging force in Palestinian politics, denied that the sanctions
and boycotts he envisaged were the same as those that had been imposed
on South Africa's apartheid regime, in that they would be targeted specifically
at Israel's presence in the occupied territories, declared illegal by the
ICJ's advisory opinion last year. "We want to create a movement, not
by boycotting Israel, but by taking positions against, and maybe even boycotting,
part of Israel that is engaged in such illegal activities in violation
of that advisory opinion, the Geneva Convention and successive UN Security
- The EU has already insisted that goods produced in settlements
should be labelled to ensure that they do not enjoy preferential tariffs
applied to Israel. But Mr al Kidwa made it clear that he wanted this escalated
into a total bar in which "you don't allow goods produced by settlers
to get into your countries."
- Pointing out that the ICJ opinion had conferred an obligation
on all countries to hasten a halt to the Israeli activities in occupiedt
erritories it deemed illegal he added: "You prevent companies and
entities that are contributing to construction of the wall or the settlements
from having any form of privileges in your countries, take actions against
them. Start to put some teeth in the words that have been repeated over
the years". This is not directed against Israelis as a whole. You
are giving them a choice."
- While decrying the "miserable failure" of the
international community to take steps to enforce the ICJ ruling, Mr al-Kidwa
also said the PA had "made a mistake" last year by not risking
a US veto by seeking an immediate endorsement from the UN Security Council
of the ICJ ruling and if unsuccessful to seek a General Assembly decision
in favour of such sanctions.
- He said diplomatic moves would be underpinned by internal
legislative proposals seeking to ensure that Palestinians did not work
for or provide services for settlers, and to ensure that settler-produced
goods did not reach the Palestinian market. The agenda for a General Assembly
session would be discussed with "others who believe that some good
is coming out of Gaza disengagement and that we shouldn't rock the boat."
- While welcoming the withdrawal of 8,000 settlers from
Gaza this summer, Mr al-Kidwa said that it was unlikely that the ordinary
life of Palestinians would be significantly different with Israel maintaining
control of airspace, borders and territorial waters. He added: "Even
if we are going to have a successful Gaza experience that should not mean
we should allow Israel to continue with their colonization of Palestinian
land in the West Bank, construction of the wall and settlement activities,joining
[the settlement of] of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem."
- Mr Al-Kidwa made it clear he still believed his uncle
may have been poisoned, saying that the French medical authorities had
been unable to diagnose his illness or cause of death, while saying that
they had found no trace "of any poison known to us." He added:
"If he was poisoned it doesn't take a genius to say it was the Israelis
but it is a big 'if' and it would be irresponsible of me to talk as if
it was a fact." He added that he believed the truth would come out
"in the not too distant future."
- Mr Al-Kidwa made it clear that the only terms on which
Palestinians would accept the "so-called state with provisional borders"
which his "hunch" is that Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister
will offer after Gaza disengagement, would be if the UN simultaneously
conferred full de jure recognition of and membership for Palestinian as
a sovereign independent state broadly along 1949-67 borders.
- The Minister defended his statement last month that Hamas
would not be disarmed before the end of the occupation, while pointing
out that the PA was still prepared to "dismantle terrorist infrastructure"
as required under the Road Map by destroying tunnels and arms factories.
He said the PA would seek to entrench a full ceasefire while enforcing
the law to prevent display of weapons on the streets while maintaining
the "right in principle" of the Palestinians to resist the occupation.
"You go into homes to try to collect arms while the Israelis are living
next door? That is not part of the Road Map."
- Israeli ministers said at yesterday's Cabinet meeting
they would address "daily life" issues for Palestinians by bussing
school and university students through the new section of the barrier and
drawing up procedures for sick people to reach medical services.
- © 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.