Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas pledged on Monday that the coming year would see the implementation of Palestinian independence.
Lighting a torch in the grounds of his West Bank headquarters to start celebration of the the 48th anniversary of his Fatah movement he spoke of last month’s historic United Nations vote upgrading the Palestinians’s diplomatic standing, referring to it as the “birth certificate” of a Palestinian state.
“We have a birth certificate… and we want to complete the march toward full independence,” he said. “Next year, 2013, will be the year of statehood and independence.”
Despite the UN vote and widespread international support for Palestinian statehood, Israel still occupies the West Bank, maintains tight controls of movement of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip and has annexed largely-Arab east Jerusalem.
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began in September 2010 but ran around several weeks later over an intractable dispute about settlement building, and international efforts to bring the two sides closer together have so far led nowhere.
Fatah is on Tuesday to mark its anniversary in the Gaza Strip for the first time since its rival, Hamas, seized power there in 2007.
Under Egyptian mediation, the two groups made a reconciliation agreement in April 2011, although it has so far not been implemented.
Abbas called for the deal to be completed, saying that there was a Palestinian “national consensus” for unity, which was needed for the Palestinians “to build on what has been achieved with the recognition of our state and the steadfastness in the face of Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.”
The Fatah anniversary commemorates the first operation against Israel claimed by its armed wing then known as Al-Assifa (The Thunderstorm in Arabic) on January 1, 1965.