Drafting Palestinian constitution prepares for establishment of independent state

17:17, March 29, 2011      

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by Osama Radi, Omer Othmani

In a remarkable step, Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday ordered a committee to start to draft a constitution and complete it before September.

A statement sent to reporters said Abbas requested the committee to finalize its work on drafting a constitution by this September "in accordance with the merit of finalizing the independent Palestinian state's establishment."

This request was made in accordance with what the Palestinians are seeking to achieve in September. They want to establish an independent Palestinian state, although the peace talks with Israel have been stalled since last October, just one month after it was launched in Washington.

As some senior officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said, September 2011 will be a "decisive" month for Palestinians, when they look for an end to the peace talks, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is expected to finalize the establishment of the Palestinian state, and U.S. President Barack Obama pledged that the state of Palestine would be a member of the United Nations.

Wassel Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO executive committee, told Xinhua that Abbas' request for drafting the constitution "is part of many important events that the Palestinians are expecting to happen in that month."

The constitution committee, which was founded in 1999 upon the request of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the PLO parliament, managed to make a first draft of the constitution shortly before it was frozen in 2005.

Nabil Shaath, a Fatah party member who chairs the committee, told Xinhua that he will keep chairing the committee "until it finalizes its mission, unless the Palestinian leadership makes a different decision," adding that "the committee has to contain 30 members representing all the Palestinian political groups."

"The committee has nothing to do with the current division between Fatah and Hamas. The committee is linked to the PNC and the Central Council of the PLO, but the Legislative Council (PLC) has nothing to do with this committee, because the PNA parliament has nothing to do with the basic law," Shaath said.

After Israel refused to freeze settlement construction, the Palestinians threatened that if the peace process fails, they would use other diplomatic options, such as to demand an international recognition of a Palestinian state on the lands occupied by Israel in 1967.

"What the Palestinian side is seeking for in September basically aims at putting the international community before its responsibilities. By September, we will finalize the constitution, building up the Palestinian state and becoming a member of the U.N. ," Abu Yousef said.

Khalil Shahin, a West Bank-based analyst, said the Palestinian leadership's current step "is counting on changing the international position concerning the recognition of an independent Palestinian state, although the problem is with the continuation of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories."

"The question that is emerging now is that in case the Palestinians manage to grab a United Nations resolution that recognizes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, what would the international community do the day after issuing such a resolution."

He ruled out that there is an international determination, mainly the United States and Europe, "to impose the UN resolution of recognizing an independent Palestinian state on Israel in this stage," adding that Washington "will immediately vote against the resolution or against imposing it on Israel."

"The major point now is that the Palestinians shouldn't show up as if they are ready for establishing the Palestinian state, but the thing they should do first is to intensify their diplomatic movements to pressure on Israel to be committed to the merits of any political process," Shahin said.

Source: Xinhua

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