Hamas: Abbas Mustn’t Relinquish Our Rights for a ‘U.S. Illusion’
Palestinian factions in exile in Damascus on Saturday warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas against giving up on the “rights of the Palestinian people” in exchange for a “U.S. illusion.”
In a joint statement sent to reporters after a Saturday meeting of political leaders from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Damascus-based factions, the groups said they would reject any international agreement Abbas might strike “on behalf of our people that would target our people’s rights under the guise of peace.” >>>
Barack Obama, the U.S. president, declared that peace efforts cannot move forward without Israel being committed to Palestinian statehood, after meeting with Mahmud Abbas, his Palestinian counterpart. Obama’s comments come days after he told Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, that Israel should stop the expansion of settlements. Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh reports on the reaction of Palestinians in the West Bank. (2:23):
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on Saturday, and briefed him on his recent trip to Washington, saying that the U.S. was committed to bringing about an end to Israeli construction in the West Bank settlements.
In a joint press conference following the meeting, the Palestinian president said that “when the American administration talks about Israel’s duty to stop the settlements – including natural growth – it is a very important step.”
Abbas added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must recognize the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before peace negotiations, which began at the U.S. Annapolis conference, could resume. >>>
Abbas says Israel’s preconditions for peace talks with Palestinians should not be discussed as it has never complied with its obligations in the previous agreements.
Palestinian Acting Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Cairo on Friday on a two-day visit for talks with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, the official MENA news agency reported.
“Abbas is scheduled to brief Mubarak on the outcome of his Thursday talks with U.S. President Barack Obama and the proposals for activating the roadmap to peace in the Middle East,” MENA said.
In an interview with al-Arabia TV, Abbas said that the Israeli regime talks of preconditions including recognizing Israel, while it has not complied with its obligations under previous agreements. He added that everyone knows that complying with the previous commitments is a key necessity for going to the next step.
“We are fully committed to all of our obligations, but Israel never complies with its commitments,” he said.
He reiterated that creating an independent Palestinian state and halting all settlement construction and expansion on the Palestinian lands are our key preconditions for peace talks with Israel.
Abbas also was interviewed the day before his Thursday meeting at the White House with U.S. President Barack Obama by The Washington Post and said that he would not help the new U.S. Middle East Envoy in encouraging the Arab states to normalize ties with Israel.
“We cannot talk about normalization while Israel still rejects a two-state solution, and is ongoing with its settlement activities in the occupied territories,…(U)ntil Israel stops these activities, and until it accepts a two-state solutions, we will not hold talks with anybody.”
Abbas added that he would not accept to make concessions such as recognizing Israel as a “Jewish State”, especially since such recognition means giving up the right of return of Palestinian refugees, who were forced out of their homes by Zionists.
Abbas told his interviewers, “The Americans are the leaders of the world… They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, ‘You have to comply with the conditions.'”
Abbas’ meeting with Obama came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rebuffed international calls for a full settlement freeze and said he would not accept limits on the Jewish construction.
In recent months Israel has announced the construction of hundreds of new Jewish settlers’ homes in occupied territories – a move in breach of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The democratically-elected Palestinian Hamas government that runs Gaza Strip has been excluded from the Washington and Cairo meetings. In compliance with Israeli wishes, the USA and Egypt have boycotted Hamas and instead choose to negotiate with the Palestinian Acting Authority Chief whose term expired last January, and who, without a mandate, has little leverage in negotiations.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has demanded that Israel put an end to all settlement building in the Palestinian territories, in a newspaper interview published Saturday.
It is “not acceptable” to found new settlements or expand existing ones in East Jerusalem or the West Bank, Steinmeier said in a joint interview with the German Press Agency DPA and German daily Sueddeutsche. >>>
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