Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Abbas: Dialogue with Hamas is inevitable


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday condemned Hamas for killing members of an al-Qaida-inspired group in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas, who was speaking at the weekly PA cabinet meeting in Ramallah, said that the Hamas offensive against Jund Ansar Allah, which resulted in the death of 28 Palestinians and the wounding of more than 120, was "inhumane."

"The way they [Hamas] did it was cruel and inhumane," Abbas complained. "They killed about 30 people and bombed mosques."

But while Abbas expressed his readiness to resume dialogue with Hamas, he said he remained opposed to reviving peace talks with Israel.

"National dialogue [with Hamas] is inevitable and we are prepared for it," Abbas told the cabinet ministers, adding that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on time in January 2010.

Abbas reconfirmed that he would not return to the negotiating table with Israel unless all settlement activities, including "natural growth," were halted.

"We're not setting conditions on anyone," he explained. "This is the demand of the international community. If Israel fulfills its commitments in line with the Road Map plan, we will be prepared to resume the talks from the point where they ended under the previous government of Ehud Olmert."

Abbas appeared to adopt a softer line than his Fatah faction when he also told the cabinet that "negotiations were the only way to achieve peace." He added: "We want peace based on international justice and legitimacy through negotiations."

Last week's Fatah congress in Bethlehem endorsed a series of resolutions that left the door open for the Palestinians to resort to armed struggle against Israel.

Meanwhile, Egypt has decided to resume its mediation efforts to end differences between Fatah and Hamas.

A high-level delegation from the Egyptian General Intelligence Service was scheduled to arrive in Bethlehem on Tuesday for talks with Abbas and his aides about the prospects of achieving reconciliation with Hamas. The delegation is headed by Gen. Muhammad Ibrahim, a deputy of the force's director, Gen. Omar Suleiman.

The delegation is also scheduled to meet with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and Syria.

The Egyptians are hoping to bring Hamas and Fatah representatives to Cairo on August 25 for another round of reconciliation talks.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official and close aide to Abbas, said that his faction was keen on ending its dispute with Hamas. He said that Fatah had no hard feelings toward Hamas for preventing Fatah delegates from the Gaza Strip from traveling to the West Bank to attend the Fatah general assembly.

Al-Ahmed added that Fatah would not arrest Hamas leader from the West Bank or cut off funds to the Gaza Strip in response to the travel ban.

Source: JPost

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