January 9, 2012
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine warned on Monday that PLO meetings with Israeli envoys were set to harm reconciliation between Palestinian factions, as Hamas reiterated its opposition to the talks.
PLO delegates are due to meet representatives of the Israeli government in the Jordanian capital later on Monday, in the second such talks since last week, called by the international Quartet.
But the leftist PFLP, long opposed to negotiations based on the two-state solution, has called the meetings a “grave political mistake,” and called on Monday for President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from talks to focus on the fraying reconciliation deal between political rivals Fatah and Hamas.
“Such meetings poison the atmosphere for reconciliation efforts,” senior PFLP leader Kayid Al-Ghoul said in a press release.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the talks bowed to Israeli and American pressure at the expense of the interests of the Palestinian people, and despite the rejection of this policy by the majority of Palestinian parties.
PLO officials should halt negotiations with Israel and speed up the reconciliation process, he said in a statement on Monday.
While serious talks are ongoing in Cairo to end enmity between Fatah and Hamas, the meetings in Amman can only be meant to thwart reconciliation and undermine any political consensus, PFLP warned.
“Claiming that these meetings are attempts to explore Israel’s attitudes is a witless and misleading justification,” Al-Ghoul said.
“Israel’s attitudes are clearly announced and well-known, and such meetings just give the Israeli government more time to avoid international pressure on Israel because of the obstacles it is creating on the ground.”
The PFLP leader said negotiations were fruitless and the policy to pursue them should be reconsidered.
A different national strategy, he proposed, should be to call an international conference sponsored by the United Nations to secure implementation of international resolutions defining Palestinians’ rights, including self-determination and the right of refugees to return to their homes.
Hamas and Fatah leaders signed a deal in May 2011 to end four years of bitter rivalry that split Palestinians into separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Implementation stalled as officials sparred over its key tenets, including the appointment of a unity cabinet to prepare for elections. While a November meeting between party chiefs in Cairo aimed to revitalize the deal, officials have clashed over the decision to take part in the Quartet talks.
Hamas re-stated its long time opposition to negotiations with Israel after the first meeting between Palestinian and Israeli officials last week, with senior Hamas official in Gaza Ismail Radwan saying the talks could threaten the unity agreement.
However Hamas chief-in-exile Khalid Mashaal told reporters in Cairo on Friday that despite the faction’s rejection of talks with Israel, the meetings will “not affect our path towards reconciliation.”
Meanwhile, leaders accused each other on Sunday of using an aborted official Fatah visit to the Gaza Strip as a pretext to scupper the deal. Fatah says officials were stopped at the Gaza border and demanded an apology, while Hamas insists the officials refused to wait for normal procedures and accuses its rival of over-blowing the incident.
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