The long-awaited Mahmoud Abbas speech to the UN General Assembly …

Well, it was very angry — but also a bit of a let down, this long-awaited and much-touted speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the UN General Assembly, just before 7 pm in Ramallah or Jerusalem [but still part of the "morning" at the UN HQ/NY this Friday].

Describing the months of American-led negotiations brokered by a team assembled by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Abbas mimicked Israeli critics by saying:

“…as usual, the Israeli government did not miss the opportunity to undermine the chance for peace”…

The full text of Abbas’ speech can be consulted here.

He did not use the word “Judaization” — but he used words that describe what Palestinians mean when they do use the term:

“Throughout the months of negotiations, settlement construction, land confiscations, home demolitions, killing and arrest campaigns, and forced displacement in the West Bank continued unabated and the unjust blockade on the Gaza Strip was tightened. The occupation’s campaign specifically targeted the City of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, attempting to artificially alter the spirit, identity and character of the Holy City, focusing on A1-Aqsa Mosque, threatening grave consequences. At the same time, racist and armed gangs of settlers persisted with their crimes against the Palestinian people, the land, mosques, churches, properties and olive trees”…

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Still no official Palestinian list of the new government – but it’s being called a “national consensus government”

So far, two days after a new government was sworn in, neither the Palestinian Government Spokesperson Ehab Bseiso nor the Government Media Center that he heads in the Prime Minister’s office, have distributed a list of the ministers, or of their portfolios…

There is a page here [in Arabic] on the website of the Prime Minister’s office which has the photos of most of the cabinet ministers – but some photos are repeated two or more times, if the minister was given two or more portfolios, and it’s a bit clumsy]…
UPDATE: And there is a worthy effort done by a clever intern at the Foundation of Middle East Peace in Washington DC, here — but in the light of statements being made, and lists NOT being published, it has become clear that neither Hamdallah nor al-Ayssa are Minister of Prisoners — The fact seems to be, nobody is…

How is it that there is no official list?  This is the minimum a new government should be able to do.

Everybody expects that this is just an interim situation, but there still should be a list — unless, of course, the idea is to hide something, or to be ambiguous and unclear…

Inevitably, the conclusion is drawn that this has to be, for some reason, deliberate.

Meanwhile, we have received the text of the statement made to the media by Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah yesterday morning, after he chaired the first meeting of the new 17th Palestinian Government — which he said “is a is a national consensus government”.

Hamdallah noted that this new government “is based on the foundation of an independent and national technocracy”.

And, he said, “This government sustains the President’s vision and will implement the PLO political agenda”.

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US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits Ramallah, hears about Palestinian statehood plans

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Ramallah today, during a trip in an exceptionally tense period to the region.

According to a report in Haaretz, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told Gates that Israel should end the occupation of the West Bank by September.

Almost two years ago, Fayyad announced plans to have the institutions of Palestinian statehood ready by September 2011.

In recent months, with the negotiations towards a two-state solution at a stalemate, Palestinian officials in Ramallah have spoken about going to the United Nations to begin preparations to request admission to UN membership of a new state of Palestine.

The Haaretz report, published here, “Fayyad stressed to Gates the importance of meeting the September deadline set in what he called the ‘Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State’ program, a statement issued by the premier’s office said. According to this two year program, by the end of August the Palestinians would have completed building their state institutions and enforced security on the ground, to allow them to establish their independent state. Fayyad told Gates that Israeli restrictions are obstructing Palestinian efforts to build their state institutions. He also said that Israel’s settlement expansion and military incursions into Palestinian Authority-run cities in the West Bank caused problems”.

Israeli officials are saying that a unilateral Palestinian move would be catastrophic, because it would bring a strong Israeli reaction — but, since they are now convinced of the urgent necessity for any solution to be a two-state model, it’s hard to understand their aversion to the Palestinian leadership’s planned moves — except as a compulsive need to maintain control.

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