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Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’ath : Palestinian leaders mulling one-state solution

Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha'ath said Thursday that a bi-national state was one of "many ideas" being formulated by the Palestinian leadership

PALESTINE, April 2, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / MA’AN NEWS AGENCY) — Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’ath said Thursday that a bi-national state was one of “many ideas” being formulated by the Palestinian leadership, Ma’an News Agency reported on Saturday.

Palestinian leaders plan to declare an independent state in September, and to seek UN recognition of that state.

The Middle East Quartet — the UN, US, EU and Russia — and US President Barack Obama set September as the goal for establishing a Palestinian state. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s two-year state-building plan is due to be completed in September.

However, if a Palestinian state is not established, several alternatives are being discussed by Palestinian leaders, Sha’ath said.

The senior Fatah official told Ma’an that one option to end the occupation was to form one state across all of historic Palestine, in which Palestinians would demand citizenship and equal civil rights.

He said leaders were also considering dissolving the Palestinian Authority and ending all Palestinian commitments to Tel Aviv, leaving Israel fully responsible for its occupation.

Placing Palestine under the mandate of the UN General Assembly was also being considered, Sha’ath said.

Israel has warned that Palestinians will face retaliatory measures if they seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP that the ministry was working to ensure that there wouldn’t be a vote at the UN.

Meanwhile, a senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow to dissuade Russia from supporting the EU’s intention to present a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Israel insists that a Palestinian state can only be established through talks. The UN’s recognition of a state would be “the end of the path of dialogue and negotiation,” the foreign ministry spokesman said.

“If problems can no longer be solved through dialogue we shall also take unilateral measures … without at the moment threatening anything concrete,” Palmor added.

Palestinian reconciliation

Israel has also warned that national Palestinian unity would be the end of negotiations with Israel.

Netanyahu said the Palestinian Authority could not have peace with both Israel and Hamas. “It’s one or the other, but not both,” he told Jewish fundraisers in a speech distributed on Tuesday by the Israeli Government Press Office.

In the wake of mass youth protests across the West Bank and Gaza demanding an end to the division, Abbas accepted an invitation from Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh to hold unity talks in the Gaza Strip.

On Saturday, Abbas met with a delegation of Hamas leaders in Ramallah, the first such meeting in over two years. Both sides described the talks as “positive.”

Hamas head of the Palestinian legislature Aziz Dweik led the delegation, and said he expected his party to accept Abbas’ initiative to end the division by forming a unity government to prepare for elections.

Sha’ath said that Abbas told the Hamas leaders that he was willing to give up US aid, worth $475 million annually, to make peace with Hamas.

Following Hamas’ victory in 2006 elections, the international community withdrew its funding from the Palestinian Authority, although it recognized that the elections were free and fair.

A unity government survived for a year without foreign aid, but collapsed when Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in bloody street battles in 2007.

The international community lifted its economic sanctions of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which retained control in the West Bank. But Israel imposed a tight blockade of Gaza widely considered to be a form of collective punishment and illegal under international law.  (*)

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2011 in World News

 

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President Mahmoud Abbas to visit Cairo

President Mahmoud Abbas

 

RAMALLAH (KATAKAMI.COM / MA’AN NEWS AGENCY) — President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to go to Cairo on Wednesday in his first visit since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

As reported by MA’AN NEWS AGENCY on Friday, Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman told Ma’an the president was invited by Egypt’s foreign affairs minister Nabil Al-Arabi on behalf of the country’s de facto leader Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi.

Othman said Egypt supported Abbas’ initiative to visit the Gaza Strip and form a unity government to prepare for elections.

The initiative seeks to end years of hostility between Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas. The rivalry has effectively cut off the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.

The Fatah-led PA controls the West Bank, while Hamas runs the government in Gaza.

A delegation of Hamas leaders visited Cairo last week, and discussed efforts toward Palestinian reconciliation.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2011 in World News

 

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Fatah leader says ‘split must end’

Illustration image : PALESTINE

GAZA CITY, March 31, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM ) — Member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council Abdullah Abu Samhadaneh spoke out on Land Day, telling fellow Fatah members in a statement that “Palestinians are in so much need for unity, unity now” and calling for an end to the internal division, Ma’an News Agency reported on Thursday.

As Palestinians across the West Bank, Gaza and in Israel marked the anniversary of a popular uprising in response to Israeli land confiscations, Abu Samhadaneh said “Today is the day of the land and we should make all efforts to achieve unity in order to face settlers, settlements and the Israeli plans in our hometown, especially Jerusalem.”   (*)

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in World News

 

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No Arab diplomats to accompany Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza visit: official

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

PALESTINE, March 29, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / PEOPLE DAILY ONLINE / XINHUA) — A Palestinian official on Monday said no Arab diplomats would accompany President Mahmoud Abbas when he visits the Gaza Strip to seek an end to Palestinian division.
 

“We have discussed some of these ideas but they have not been developed into decisions or agreement,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Committee.

Local media reported earlier that Abbas told members of the executive committee that the head of the Arab League (AL) and the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) would go to Gaza with him.

Abbas’ visit would be his first time to set foot in Gaza since the Islamic Hamas movement routed his forces and ousted his Fatah party in June 2007.

Responding to public pressure in mid-March, the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haneya, invited Abbas to come to Gaza to resume national dialogue and reach a reconciliation based on sharing power.   (*)

 

Source: Xinhua

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in World News

 

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Fatah: President Abbas awaiting Hamas response

 

RAMALLAH, March 28, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / Ma’an News Agency) — There has yet to be a response from Hamas following a meeting between party members and President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, member of the Fatah central committee Nabil Sha’th told Ma’an.

Despite the positive sentiments exchanged, Sha’th said Monday, “Abbas is still waiting for the official response.”

Abbas, who leads the Fatah party, met with Hamas officials to discuss a proposed trip to Gaza and efforts to mend internal Palestinian division by way of the formation of a unity government.

Protests by Palestinian youth organizations which began on 14 March, demanded that leaders make real steps toward unity, prompting Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh to invite Abbas to Gaza for the re-launch of a unity effort.

Abbas on 16 March that he would accept the invitation, but only if he was going to Gaza to sign an agreement, adding that he would not go only for a new round of talks. Hamas officials said the suggestion amounted to impossible preconditions, adding that real discussions were necessary to ensure an enduring agreement.

The Saturday meeting, of which little is substantively known, was said to have been positive.

Sha’th echoed the praise of the meeting in his Monday statement, adding that Abbas would consider entering Gaza through the Rafah crossing in Egypt, of Israel refused to allow him access via the Erez crossing.

Israel’s prime minister has said that Abbas could choose between unity with Hamas and peace with Israel, and condemned the reunification of the Palestinian political sphere.

Since 2007, Hamas has run the government in the Gaza Strip, while the West Bank government has been controlled by Fatah. In 2006 Hamas won legislative elections, but was boycotted by much of the international community. Without international support the government folded, resulting in the creation of a unity government in early 2007, which collapsed amid infighting which neared the dimensions of a civil war.  (*)

 

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in World News

 

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President Mahmoud Abbas meets Hamas Leaders in Ramallah

 

 

RAMALLAH, March 27, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / Ma’an News Agency / AFP) — President Mahmoud Abbas held talks Saturday with Hamas leaders in Ramallah, in a meeting both sides described as “positive.”

As reported by Ma’an News Agency on Saturday, Aziz Dweik, the Hamas head of the Palestinian legislature, said the meeting was “highly positive” and that “practical moves on the ground will taken in the coming days” regarding Abbas’ proposed visit to Gaza to make a unity deal.

“This visit has become the people’s demand and must be answered,” Dweik said.

He added that he delivered a letter to Abbas from the delegation, but did not reveal its contents.

Azzam Al-Ahmad, president of Fatah’s parliamentary bloc, said without elaborating that “the meeting was indeed positive in spite of some negative statements from the brothers in Hamas about what the president announced.”

Al-Ahmad said the meeting was the first practical step taken by Hamas toward facilitating Abbas’ visit.

Meanwhile, Palestinian factions meeting in Gaza City expressed their support for the landmark meeting in Ramallah, the first between Abbas and Hamas in over two years.

“The attendees support the initiative of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to invite President Mahmoud Abbas to visit Gaza, and Abbas’ response, and the meeting Abbas held earlier with Aziz Dwiek,” said Osama Al-Haj Ahmed of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

However, some Fatah officials downplayed the importance of the meeting, saying Hamas’ official decision is made in Gaza and by its leadership abroad.

During the meeting, Abbas discussed his initiative to end the division between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas-run government in Gaza.

On March 16, the president accepted an invitation from Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh to visit the coastal enclave in the midst of mass youth protests calling for national unity.

But Abbas said he would go to make a deal, not to discuss one. Haniyeh had invited the president for talks.

Abbas said the purpose of the landmark trip would be to “end the division and form a government of independent national figures to start preparing for presidential, legislative and [Palestinian] National Council elections within six months.”

He has not set foot in the Gaza Strip since Hamas ousted Fatah from the enclave in near civil war in 2007.

The president said Palestinians would not be able to end Israel’s occupation or hold elections without achieving national unity first.

Since 2007, Gaza has been effectively cut off from the West Bank, which is under the control of Fatah, and repeated attempts at reconciliation have led nowhere.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza and the West Bank on March 15 to demand that the two factions end their long-running rivalry.  (*)

 

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in World News

 

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Palestinian president meets Hamas rivals in West Bank to discuss possible unity deal

 

RAMALLAH, West Bank, March 27, 2011 – The Palestinian president met Saturday with his rivals in the Hamas militant group in an attempt to end nearly four years of infighting that has complicated the quest for a Palestinian state, Star Tribune reported.

With the collapse of peace talks with Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Western-backed government have turned their attention to reconciling with the Iranian-backed Hamas movement that ousted his forces from the Gaza Strip in 2007 and left him governing only in the West Bank. Palestinians seek both territories for their nation.

Hamas and other Gaza militants oppose peace with Israel and have over the past week rained rockets and mortar fire down on Israeli communities across the border. No one has been killed, but Israel for the first time deployed parts of an anti-rocket shield under development called the “Iron Dome.” Two more rockets were fired Saturday, spraying an Israeli home with shrapnel.

Years of on-and-off talks between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement have produced many false starts. Even mediation by Egypt, before the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, failed to bring about a breakthrough.

Saturday’s meeting in the West Bank — the first to involve Abbas in a year — had a relatively modest goal, to arrange a trip by Abbas to Hamas-ruled Gaza for more talks. He has not set foot in the territory since the Hamas takeover.

Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said the meeting was a positive discussion but no headway was made in setting Abbas’ Gaza visit.

“We hope that all the obstacles will be removed. The most important thing is to get to a practical result, which won’t happen before the president’s arrival to Gaza,” he said.

Ayman Hussein of the Hamas delegation told The Associated Press that Abbas said he wants one government to rule both the West Bank and Gaza and that a date needs to be set for Palestinian elections, which have had to be delayed because of the division.

Abbas has previously said elections would be held in September but only if a deal is reached to allow the participation of Gaza. Hamas has said it would boycott the election.

Hamas lawmaker Aziz Duwaik said many issues were discussed and “practical steps will follow very soon,” without elaborating.

Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza took to the streets earlier this month calling on their governments to reconcile.

Without unity, Palestinian statehood and a peace agreement with Israel will be even harder to achieve. Talks between Israel and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority collapsed last year because of disputes over Israeli construction in the West Bank.

If a unity deal is reached, independent technocrats approved by both sides would be appointed to temporarily govern the West Bank and Gaza until national elections. The winner would lead a united Palestinian Authority.

However, Abbas has not revealed what his plan for a unified Palestinian Authority would look like in practical terms, and the level of acrimony between the sides significantly dims prospects for a deal.

An outright Hamas election victory that shuts out Fatah would also further stall peace efforts with Israel.

Hamas and Israel have largely stuck to a truce since a punishing Israeli offensive in the Gaza in early 2009.

Smaller militant groups in Gaza, however, have continued to lob rockets over the border, drawing Israeli airstrikes and shelling. And violence escalated last Saturday, when Gaza militants fired more than 50 mortar shells into southern Israel. Hamas took responsibility for some of the shelling.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said Saturday that his group would end rocket attacks if Israel stops its strikes. The Israeli military would not comment. (*)

 

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in World News

 

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