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Cheney doubtful on Hamas-Fatah reconciliation

Latest update : 2008-03-24

US Vice President Dick Cheney expressed doubts Monday that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas would agree to a reconciliation with Hamas unless they give up control of the Gaza Strip.

US Vice President Dick Cheney said on Monday he did not believe Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would agree to reconcile with Hamas until the Islamist group gave up control of the Gaza Strip.

 

Cheney spoke to reporters following a breakfast meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and a day after Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas issued a declaration in Sanaa agreeing to resume dialogue under a Yemeni fence-mending initiative.

 

“My conclusion from talking with the Palestinian leadership is that they have established preconditions which would have to be fulfilled before they would ever agree to a reconciliation, including a complete reversal of the Hamas takeover of Gaza,” said Cheney, who later flew on to Ankara.

 

Cheney, who paid a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories to try to push Israeli-Palestinian peace talks forward, met Abbas in the occupied West Bank on Monday shortly after the declaration was issued in the Yemeni capital.

 

The Yemeni initiative calls for the “Palestinian situation”  to return to the way it was before June, when Hamas Islamists wrested control of the territory of 1.5 million people from secular Fatah in fighting in June.

 

The West Bank-based Palestinian leadership made clear in a statement after the Sanaa declaration was issued that it continued to demand, as part of any renewed dialogue with Hamas, that its rival give up control of the Gaza Strip.

 

Hamas rejected that position, saying articles of the Yemeni plan were up for negotiation.

 

Hamas opposes Abbas’s U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel, which the United States hopes can lead to a Palestinian statehood deal before President George W. Bush leaves the White House in January.

 

 

 

 

PEACE PROCESS

 

Referring to the Gaza Strip, Cheney said: “It is clearly a difficult situation, in part because I think it’s true that there is evidence that Hamas is supported by Iran and Syria and they are doing everything they can to torpedo the peace process.”

 

Cheney did not elaborate.

 

Some Hamas militants have trained in Iran and its top leader, Khaled Meshaal, is based in Syria.

 

Violence along Israel’s frontier with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, including Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli raids, has threatened to derail peace talks relaunched at a U.S.-led conference in Annapolis, Maryland last November.

 

After meeting Cheney, Abbas said Israeli settlement expansion, roadblocks in the West Bank and assaults against militants were holding up progress in the negotiations on core issues of the Middle East conflict.

 

A senior Israeli Defence Ministry strategist, Amos Gilad, said it was unlikely Abbas would patch up ties with Hamas, as long as the Fatah leader believed peace with Israel remained an option.

 

Abbas dismissed a Hamas-led Palestinian unity government after the Gaza takeover.

Date created : 2008-03-24

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