Da Ha'aretz del 22/09/2006
Originale su http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/766032.html

Hamas: We won't join gov't requiring recognition of Israel

di Aluf Benn, Avi Issacharoff

Hamas will not join a Palestinian unity government if recognition of Israel is a condition, a close aide to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Friday. The comment appeared to contradict Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' statement to the United Nations from the day before.

Abbas told the UN General Assembly on Thursday that the planned Hamas-Fatah government would recognize Israel.

However, Haniyeh's political adviser, Ahmed Yousef, said "there won't be a national unity government if Hamas is asked to recognize Israel."

Yousef said instead of recognizing Israel, Hamas was prepared to agree to a "long-term truce for five or 10 years, until the occupation withdraws." He was unclear on what Hamas would do if coalition talks break down.

Youssef said Thursday that a Quartet statement released earlier in the day opened the way for dialogue with a Palestinian unity government and for the renewal of ties and a lifting of the economic boycott of the Palestinian Authority.

The Quartet - composed of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia - endorsed Abbas' efforts to establish a national unity government with Hamas. It said it hoped the platform of the unity government would "reflect" the three conditions: recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and abiding by interim peace deals. The Quartet also urged Israel to hand over withheld tax revenues to the Palestinians.

The Hamas-led government has so far refused to agree to the conditions.

"We consider the absence of of a Quartet demand that the new government recognize Israel as a sign of the willingness to show softening of the stance vis-a-vis the Palestinians," he said.

Fatah and Hamas announced last week that they would team up to govern, in an effort to ease crushing international sanctions imposed on the Hamas-led government to pressure it to soften its violent anti-Israel ideology.

Their preliminary agreement says the new government would strive to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel - implying recognition of the Jewish state.

But coalition talks have faltered because the West and Israel want Hamas to clearly state its willingness to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.


Abbas told the General Assembly that "any future Palestinian government" would honor all past agreements to which the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority have committed.

The agreements include letters between the Palestinians and Israel in which the PLO agreed to recognize Israel, renounce violence and commit to negotiations aimed at an independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel, he said.

Abbas said that if a unity government led to a resumption of peace talks, the negotiations would be under the jurisdiction of the PLO, which he heads. In addition, any results would be submitted either to a national referendum or the Palestinian National Council.

"Any future government will commit to imposing security and order, to ending the phenomena of multiple militias, indiscipline and chaos, and to the rule of law," he said.

The commitments "should suffice to lift the unjust siege imposed on our people, which has inflicted extensive damage on our society, its livelihood and the means of its growth and development," said Abbas.

He recalled the plea issued from the General Assembly podium 32 years ago by the late PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, who pulled out a gun and an olive branch, saying "Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand."

"And here I am repeating the same call: Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand, do not let the olive branch fall from my hand," he said.


Earlier on Thursday, Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would not meet with Abbas as long as Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and release an IDF soldier captured in Gaza.

Peres met Abbas on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting to discuss an economic cooperation project, as well as Abbas' efforts in the formation of the Palestinian national unity government.

Asked about the timing of a meeting between Olmert and Abbas, Peres said: "The meeting is waiting for Mr. Abbas achieving what he himself declared is a condition."

The conditions were Palestinian government recognition of Israel and the peace agreements signed with Israel, as well as the release of an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza, he said.

Abbas did not speak to reporters after the meeting, but chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Abbas had reiterated his commitment to exert every effort to achieve the soldier's release, as well as that of Palestinian prisoners.

The Middle East Quartet - the United States, European Union, the United Nations and Russia - said on Wednesday that any unity government should "reflect" demands to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and abide by peace deals.

Hamas welcomed the Quartet statement endorsing efforts to forge a Palestinian unity government that could help end an international ban on most aid.

Peres said Abbas was a "leader of peace" and a reliable man.

But he added that Hamas "unfortunately is continuing to fire rockets throughout Israel which makes their participation in anything almost impossible."

"Even this morning they fired them," he said, responding to a question about Hamas' participation in a unity government.

But forming such a government will be difficult. Tensions between Fatah and Hamas flared up last week when a top intelligence official loyal to Abbas was gunned down in Gaza.

Erekat did not comment on progress in talks to form a unity government, but he said the purpose of such a government was not "because we want to redistribute who's minister of health and who's minister of education.

"People know that we're under siege, and we have to be consistent with the international community and we have obligations," Erekat said, adding that "mutual recognition" was one of the first such commitments made in peace agreements signed more than a decade ago.

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