Fatah calls for "day of rage" against US
Fatah leader Tawfik Tirawi called Feb. 18 for a "day of rage" against the United States next Friday after the Obama administration used its veto power to block a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements on the West Bank. In the previous day's vote, the US directed its UN ambassador to kill the draft resolution even though the 14 other members of the 15-nation Council voted in favor. (Ma'an News Agency, Feb. 19)
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, "This is an arbitrary and outrageous decision against the Palestinian people. It should push the Palestinian Authority to adopt a strategy of unity...and take a national decision to end all forms of negotiations with the occupation."
US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Washington was "regrettably" opposing the resolution. She said that should not be seen by Israel as support for continued settlement building on the West Bank. Ahead of the vote, the US pressured the Palestinians to drop their backing for the resolution, to no avail. PA President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly rejected a personal appeal from President Obama. Fatah leaders also said anonymously that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatened to cut off financial aid if the PA not withdraw its draft from the Security Council's agenda. (AFP, YNet, Feb. 19)
A Palestinian lawyer and specialist in settlements affairs meanwhile said that Israeli authorities sold some 1,400 homes in the Jewish settlements of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the year 2010. Qais Nasser said that 668 homes were sold in the settlement of Modi'in, southwest of Ramallah, 319 homes in the settlement of Har Homa, ease of Jerusalem, 101 homes in Ma'aleh Adumim, also east of Jerusalem, 126 homes in Beitar Elit, west of Bethlehem, and 78 homes in Giv'at Ze'ev, located within East Jerusalem. Nasser warned that Israel is planning to build and sell 5,000 housing units in West Bank and East Jerusalem. (Arab News, Feb. 19)
Yasser Abed Rabbo, the Palestine Liberation Organizations secretary general, said Palestinian leaders had decided to make an attempt to bypass the Security Council and win condemnation of Israel's continued settlement building at the General Assembly, which convenes in New York in September. The PA also hopes that Palestine will join the UN as a new member state by the time the General Assembly convenes September. (AFP, AlJazeera, Feb. 19)