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PORTSIDE  April 2011, Week 4

PORTSIDE April 2011, Week 4

Subject:

Palestinian Factions in Reconciliation Bid; Israeli Peace Movement Welcomes Reconciliation

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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Date:

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 21:57:09 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (244 lines)

Fatah and Hamas agree to form interim government and fix
general election date following talks in Cairo.

Last Modified: 28 Apr 2011 08:09
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/04/201142861753886364.html

Fatah, the Palestinian political organisation, has reached
an agreement with its rival Hamas on forming an interim
government and fixing a date for a general election,
Egyptian intelligence has said.

In February, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian
Authority and a member of Fatah, called for presidential and
legislative elections before September, in a move which was
rejected by Hamas at the time.

Abbas signaled on Thursday that peace talks with Israel
would still be possible during the term of a new interim
government formed as part of a unity deal with Hamas.

Abbas said the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO),
which he heads and to which Hamas does not belong, would
still be responsible for "handling politics, negotiations".

He was speaking for the first time since the unity deal was
unveiled in Cairo on Wednesday.

The deal, which took many officials by surprise, was
thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret
meetings.

"The consultations resulted in full understandings over all
points of discussions, including setting up an interim
agreement with specific tasks and to set a date for
election," Egyptian intelligence said in a statement on
Wednesday.

"The two sides signed initial letters on an agreement. All
points of differences have been overcome," Taher Al-Nono, a
Hamas government spokesman in Gaza, told the Reuters news
agency.

He said that Cairo would shortly invite both sides to a
signing ceremony.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Gaza, Ghazi Hamad, a senior
Hamas official, said: "I think we are optimistic because ...
there is [an] official agreement between Hamas and Fatah,
and I think we now have [an] impressive jump to the
Palestinian unity.

"Maybe it does not come as a shock because I think it came
as a fruit of long talks and discussion.

"I think that today we became very close to this agreement,
we have finished some points. It is like [an] outline draft
and I think it will be a good beginning.

"Maybe after that we will start on how to implement this
agreement to be translated and practised on the ground."

'Geopolitical situation'

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said:
"It is important news ... the geopolitical situation wasn't
exactly helpful [to reconciliation] and then we went through
six months of upheavals, certainly sweeping through Egypt.

"At the end, you could say that President Abbas has lost his
patron in Egypt, which is President Mubarak, and Hamas is
more on less facing almost similar trouble now, with Bashar
al-Assad [Syria's president] facing his own trouble in
Damascus.

"So with the US keeping a distance and Israel not delivering
the goods on the peace process and the settlements, it was
time for Palestinians to come together and agree on what
they basically agreed on almost a year and a half ago."

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, said on
Wednesday that Abbas could not hope to forge a peace deal
with Israel if he pursued a reconciliation accord with
Hamas.

"The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with
Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for
peace with both," he said.

In his televised statement, Netanyahu said Israel could not
accept Hamas as a negotiating partner because it "aspires to
destroy Israel, it says so publicly, it fires rockets on our
cities, it fires anti-tank rockets on our children."

He said that the surprise announcement of a reconciliation
deal "exposes the Palestinian Authority's weakness".

And on Thursday, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign
minister said the deal marks the "crossing of a red line".

Lieberman warned that the accord could lead to the militant
group's takeover of the Fatah-run West Bank.

But top Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdaineh said the reconciliation
did not concern Israel.

"The agreement between Fatah and Hamas movements is an
internal affair and has nothing to do with Israel. Netanyahu
must choose between a just peace with the united Palestinian
people ... and settlements," Abu Rdaineh said.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reported from Ramallah that "a
lot of people would say that this was really an empty kind
of ultimatum - what peace process, or what peace deal, is
prime minister Netanyahu actually talking about?

"The peace process very much took a hit in the last few
months. There has been no peace process taking place between
the Palestinian Authority and Israel because of Israel's
insistence on building on land that is being negotiated on.

"So I think many months back, the PA and Fatah decided to
take their own route, away from this peace process, away
from US mediation and try to really go it alone."

The US is reviewing further reports on details of the
reconciliation, and while it supports Palestinian
reconciliation, Hamas remains "a terrorist organisation
which targets civilians", Tommy Vietor, US National Security
Council spokesman, said.

"To play a constructive role in achieving peace, any
Palestinian government must accept the Quartet principles
and renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and
recognize Israel's right to exist."

Hamas does not recognise Israel as a state.

'Bitter split'

Fatah holds power in the occupied West Bank while Hamas,
which won the last parliamentary election in 2006, routed
Abbas' forces in 2007 to seize control of the Gaza Strip.

Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cairo, said:
"This effectively will be ending a bitter split that
Palestinians have been witnessing since 2007.

Rageh said the deal was expected to be signed next week and
would be attended by Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal,
who is based in Damascus.

Nicole Johnston, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said:
"One of the main civil society groups here is calling on all
Palestinian factions to head down to the main square in Gaza
City, the square of the unknown soldier, to begin the
celebrations.

"It seems certainly in Gaza that there's a need for some
good news. It's been a pretty rough month here in a lot of
respects, an escalation of violence with Israel, the
kidnapping and murder of a foreigner.

"So really, this kind of news ... is a call for
celebration."

Wednesday's accord was first reported by Egypt's
intelligence service, which brokered the talks.

In a statement carried by Egyptian state news agency MENA,
the intelligence service said the deal was agreed by a Hamas
delegation led by Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the
group's politburo, and Fatah central committee member Azzam
al-Ahmad.

Al-Ahmad and Abu Marzouk said the agreement covered all
points of contention, including forming a transitional
government, security arrangements and the restructuring of
the Palestine Liberation Organisation to allow Hamas to join
it.

Speaking on Egyptian state television, al-Ahmad said a
general election would take place within a year.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of Hamas, said all
prisoners with a non-criminal background would be released.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

===========

Gush Shalom welcomes reconciliation agreement between Hamas
and Fatah.

Press Release April 27, 2011

Uri Avnery: "Palestinian unity is a top Israeli interest.
Netanyahu's rejection of the agreement proves that his
government has no program and no solution".

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/events/1303935244

Following the reconciliation agreement between , former
Knesset Member Avnery, Gush Shalom activist, stated:

"I wholeheartedly welcome the agreement reached by the
Palestinians in Cairo. Palestinian unity, overcoming the
malignant split, are not a threat to Israel, but a top
Israeli interest. The State of Israel can and must reach a
peace agreement with the entire Palestinian people, with all
its factions, through a Palestinian Unity Government which
represents them all. "

Avnery added that "Prime Minister Netanyahu responded with
the predictable futile refusal and rejection, and proved
that his government has no solution and no way forward. The
State of Israel destroyed the previous Palestinian Unity
Government, resulting in a lot of bloodshed of Israelis and
Palestinians alike. A serious error which must not be
repeated. The State of Israel should support and encourage
Palestinian unity, and contribute its share by opening the
'Safe Passage' between Gaza and the West Bank - as Israel
undertook to do in the Oslo Agreement but never
implemented."

===========

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