Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that a new government that will unite his Fatah party and the Hamas militant group under his authority will reject violence and recognise Israel, although not as a "Jewish" state.
Abbas spoke Saturday to the Palestinian Central Council, a top decision-making body, two days after Israel halted negotiations with the Palestinians over a reconciliation deal between Abbas's Fatah and Hamas.
Israel’s leaders accused Abbas of choosing Hamas over possible peace with Israel. However, the suspension came at a time when talks were close to collapse and had achieved no results after nine months.
Abbas said any unity government with the Islamic militant group Hamas would follow his political programme, an apparent attempt to reassure the West.
“The upcoming government will obey my policy,” Abbas said Saturday. “I recognise Israel and reject violence and terrorism, and recognise international commitments.”
However, Abbas refused to accept a longtime demand by Prime Minister Netanyahu that he recognise Israel as a "Jewish state", saying they recognised it as a state in 1993 and should not have to accept its religious identity.
The Palestinian leader pointed out that no similar demand was made of Egypt or Jordan when they signed peace treaties recognising Israel.
Some analysts have also pointed to the difficulties presented by the thousands of Israeli-Arab citizens living in Israel, the majority of whom are Muslim.
Fatah's Revolutionary Council in March reiterated their rejection of Israeli demands to be recognised as a Jewish state.
Abbas open to re-starting talks
For the first time since the suspension of talks, Abbas said he was still open to re-starting them and pushing on beyond the April 29 deadline. There was no immediate response from Israeli negotiators.
Israel and Western nations view Hamas as a terrorist organisation, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas must choose between reconciling with the Islamist group and negotiating peace with his country.
Earlier on Saturday, Netanyahu spokesman Ofir Gendelman wrote on Twitter that “abbas forged a pact w/ a global terrorist organisation,” noting Hamas was on the “terror lists” of various states, including the United States and Egypt.
The dispute over recognition and Israel’s continuing construction of settlements in the occupied territories presented major obstacles to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s dogged efforts to coax the two sides towards a historic peace agreement.
The United States had been hoping to extend the faltering talks, which were launched last July, beyond their April 29 deadline, but the efforts hit a wall last month.
On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said US efforts to broker a peace deal had not failed, but were in a “holding period” as Palestinians and Israelis decide their next move.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)
Date created : 2014-04-26