Palestinian amb. speaks his mind after failed assassination of PM


Wed, 14 Mar 2018 - 05:23 GMT

Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Diab al-Loh during an interview Wednesday, March 14, 2018/Photo by Hazem abdel-Samad/Egypt Today

Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Diab al-Loh during an interview Wednesday, March 14, 2018/Photo by Hazem abdel-Samad/Egypt Today

CAIRO – 14 March 2018: As a diplomat, Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Diab al-Loh couldn’t name specific groups or international powers standing behind the failed assassination attempt that targeted Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his General Intelligence Chief Maged Farag on March 13; however, he affirmed that the investigations are ongoing and, until then, no one can accuse anyone of involvement in the attack, including Hamas or any other parties or powers.

“I’m a diplomat,” he said, “I can’t accuse anyone or even point at a probability in this regard.”

Nevertheless, the ambassador, who joined Egypt Today in open conversation on Wednesday, March 14, said that there are many international and national powers that could be affected by the Palestinians achieving a complete reconciliation under Egypt’s auspices. “The blast that failed to kill our prime minister aimed only to prevent the agreement from being implemented,” Loh added, affirming that, regardless of the goal, both Egypt and Palestine responded quickly and decisively.

As for Palestine, Hamdallah and his combined delegation finished their intended mission in Gaza Strip and didn’t leave until finishing all they had to do. Meanwhile, Egypt’s high-profile delegation issued a statement clarifying that they are not leaving.

“We didn’t accuse anyone,” Loh repeated. He noted that most of the issued statements following the blast “were accounting Hamas the responsibility,” not as a result of assuming that they are involved in it, but because they are responsible for Gaza’s security.

“We (the government) didn’t receive Gaza’s responsibility or security until this moment; it’s them and that’s why they are responsible,” the ambassador said.

“Twenty kilograms of highly explosive materials were planted on the roadside targeting the PM’s convoy, but for some technical reason, it didn’t blast at the determined timing, so only the convoy’s last cars were affected,” Loh said, describing what happened according to the expert analysis.

Talking about Palestinian political parties’ disputes, he assumed that it’s not only a matter of internal division between the factions, but there are also other national and international powers involved with the country’s affairs and seeking the dispute to continue much longer. “Many parties participated in our internal policies and disputes. The wars and conflicts within the MENA region started with us, but no one really paid good attention,” Loh stated.

Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Diab al-Loh during an interview Wednesday, March 14, 2018/Photo by Hazem abdel-Samad/Egypt Today

It’s true that this is not the first attempt to achieve reconciliation between the Palestinian factions; however, they are determined this time to move forward. According to Loh, many international parties used to interfere in order to weaken the reconciliation’s past attempts and peace talks, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“He used to say to our president, ‘It’s either peace with the U.S. or with Hamas’,” the ambassador said, adding that, during negotiations, Netanyahu wondered, “Why should I make peace and negotiate with you, while your government is not in charge of Gaza.”

‘No state of Gaza only or without Gaza’

“The deal of the century” (as called by the American administration), which has been roaming western media outlets lately as Donald Trump’s ultimate solution for the Palestinian cause, took the ambassador’s attention as he affirmed undoubtedly that without certain Palestinian conditions, no deal will pass.

“Not without acceptable solutions for Jerusalem, refugees and refraining from interfering in the Palestinian constants,” Loh said, commenting on the probability of accepting the United States’ likely-to-be-proposed solution.

“No one knows actual details about the American deal or solution. They are talking about it. But what is it? No one knows,” Loh wondered. “The U.S. surprised us with a number of decisions at once, including recognizing Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, relocating the embassy and closing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington,” the ambassador added, assuring that there are so many details missing when it comes to the U.S.

“No state in Gaza or without Gaza,” Loh confidently said, denying any rumors regarding all the solutions that assume that Gaza could be a state of its own or part of a state other than Palestine. He further clarified that no Palestinian state will be established anywhere else but within the Palestinian land.

“Egypt’s land for Egypt and the Palestinian land for Palestine,” he said. According to the ambassador, many offers of rebuilding Gaza’s airport were turned down by President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) because their plan suggested that part of the runway would be inside Egypt.

“Their suggestion was refused by Abu Mazen more than once, to not be taken even as a tiny entrance or excuse for discussing any solutions regarding including other lands but Palestine’s in the political solutions,” Loh revealed. He stressed that the Palestinian Authority completely refuses these kinds of solutions or alleged deals.

These are the Palestinian demands from U.S. to resume peace talks

President Trump should offer fair and just solutions for the Palestinian cause, which should include a plan in which Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. “We are expecting them to recognize Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital, refrain from relocating the embassy, reopen the PLO office in Washington, lift the ban on the financial aid offered our authority and finally resume the UNRWA financial aid,” Loh said, listing his government’s demands of the U.S.

“Any unbalanced solution will never see the light,” the Palestinian ambassador said. He added that his government is currently seeking United Nations sponsorship over the peace talks and multi-state mediation.

In case some countries, including the U.S., relocate their embassies, there are two international decisions that Palestine will commit to, according to the ambassador. First is the resolution of the Arab League summit issued in Amman in 1980, which mentions “cutting all diplomatic relations with countries that relocate their embassies to Jerusalem or recognize it as an official capital.” Second is a Security Council decision from the same year (1980) that bans diplomatic missions from relocating to Jerusalem and calls on them to withdraw from the Holy City.

“Back then, there were about eleven missions in Jerusalem and they withdrew their missions later,” the ambassador said.

Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Diab al-Loh during an interview Wednesday, March 14, 2018/Photo by Hazem abdel-Samad/Egypt Today

He noted that all of the Arab countries are backing the Palestinian cause. “Talking about ourselves, we will commit to the international resolutions, but when it comes to the other Arab countries, they are responsible for their own decisions; however, we are fully aware of their support for us,” Loh added.

“Some countries just will prefer to keep their diplomatic relations with the United States; it’s their call. But we closed the door ourselves already after Trump’s final decisions,” he said. The ambassador further described his country as the “spearhead” in the dispute with Washington.

Reconciliation still on edge

Intensive communications and efforts have been taking place since October 2017, and even before then, to finally reach a reconciliation that will archive unity for the Palestinian government; however, some obstacles are still standing in the agreement’s way. This has demanded the high-profile Egyptian delegation to pay frequent and repeated visits to the Gaza Strip during the recent period.

On February 25, the delegation started one of its longest visits, which lasted until March 8. During the visit, the delegation met with several Palestinian leaders from all parties and factions.

The Egyptian security delegation returned again to Gaza on March 11 to continue their efforts and meetings. Shortly after the attack, they issued a statement in which they deeply condemned the incident, praising Hamdallah’s stance and statements that followed the attack. They said, “We will stay here and won’t leave.”

When asked about the obstacles that still hinder the agreement inked in Cairo last October, Loh mentioned three main issues: “Security systems and weapons, judiciary, and taxes.”

“Security systems and weapons mean protection and security,” he explained, “judiciary is how we will achieve justice, and without having full responsibility over collecting taxes, we won’t be able to pay salaries,” adding that all of these three files are not yet the Palestinian Unity Government’s responsibility.

Finally, the ambassador assured that Palestine, regardless of everything, is a democratic country, in which political movement does not suffer from any internal disputes over anything. “Fatah is not going to take any political decisions by itself, and whoever is elected or chosen by the Palestinian people will rule.”



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