Hamas: U.S. blocking European efforts to end economic boycott
Hamas accused the United States on Thursday of trying to thwart
European efforts to ease an economic blockade of a new Palestinian
The Quartet, comprising the United States, the European Union, Russia
and the United Nations, repeated a demand on Wednesday that any
Palestinian government renounce violence, recognize Israel and respect
interim peace deals.
The United States wants to continue to shun the government if it does
not meet the three conditions, whereas Russia and other European
governments favor a softer line.
Hamas said Thursday it was encouraged by what it called a "wait and
see" approach by the Quartet of Middle East mediators towards the
"They [the Quartet] have decided to wait and see until the new
government is formed and they have not rushed to reiterate the
continuation of the siege and sanctions," Hamas cabinet spokesman
Ghazi Hamad said. "They have left the door open for the possibility of
opening a dialogue."
But Palestinian Information Minister Youssef Rizqa of Hamas said: "It
[the United States] aims to undermine the European and Russian efforts
in order to continue the siege imposed on our people."
Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal said Thursday that the world
should lift the financial embargo on the Palestinian Authority,
despite the opposition of the U.S. and Israel.
Mashaal was speaking to reporters in Cairo about the implications of the
agreement signed in Mecca this month.
"This [Mecca] deal should lead to the lifting of the blockade," Meshal
told reporters after talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul
Gheit. "There is no other option."
Asked if he thought the United States would agree to lift the blockade,
Meshal said: "That is not important, because there is an international
will that is being formed despite the American position.
Israel: Quartet holding firm to its three demands
The Foreign Ministry on Thursday said that a Quartet statement issued
Wednesday was a sign that the group of international Middle East peace
negotiators are holding firm on their three conditions.
Israel pointed to statements by the Quartet after a meeting in Berlin
as a sign that the group would hold the new government to the three
conditions. "They're not obstacles to peace, they are prerequisites
for a successful peace process," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev
The unity government deal between the ruling Hamas movement and
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction has
widened divisions within the Quartet.
Citing the divisions, Hamas' Hamad said: "I believe there is a
possibility to change the Quartet's position in a more positive manner
to deal with the government."
Abbas political adviser Ahmed Abdel-Rahman said the Quartet "will open
the door" to restoring ties with the Palestinian government once it
fully understands the unity government deal.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has said he hopes
to announce a new government within three weeks.
Hamad said progress was being made and key decisions would be taken
The unity agreement contained a vague promise to "respect" previous
Israeli-Palestinian agreements but did not directly commit the new
government to renouncing violence or recognizing Israel.
"In the unity government, we have adopted a political agenda that
leaves a large amount of room for political movement that could be
developed. The political agenda can be used by the international
community to make a serious political process," Hamad said, though he
gave no details.
Former Palestinian FM leading candidate for vice premier
Former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa is currently the
leading candidate for the position of Palestinian vice premier,
Fatah's spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Abed al-Hakim Awad, told the al
-Quds al-Arabi daily on Thursday.
Al-Kidwa is the nephew of Yasser Arafat and the former Palestinian
ambassador to the United Nations.
Hamas is striving to gain on the Palestinian security forces ?
currently under the exclusive command of Fatah ? and to influence
matters of national defense.
Awad said that he hopes the negotiations between Hamas and Fatah over
these matters won't strain the national unity government between the
Abbas asks EU to support new gov't
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday brought his
struggle for Western support of the incoming coalition government to
Germany, which holds the European Union presidency.
Abbas, who is seeking an end to the crippling international boycott of
the Palestinian Authority, arrived in Berlin after meeting British
Prime Minister Tony Blair.
He says the Palestinians are committed to rejecting violence, to
international law and to meeting all agreements reached previously with
Israel - even though the power-sharing agreement between his Fatah
faction and Hamas largely skirts these demands.
Abbas was holding talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier on Thursday before meeting Friday with Chancellor Angela
Meanwhile, Hamas political chief Meshal will travel next week to
Moscow for talks, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
During Meshal's visit, Russia planned to continue its efforts toward
stabilizing the situation in the Palestinian territories and
overcoming the inter-Palestinian discord that followed the Mecca
agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the ministry said in a statement.
Russia also wanted to help in the forming of the unity government that
takes into consideration the well-known criteria of the Quartet, and
also the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, the ministry
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, confirmed the upcoming trip,
saying it aim was to market the Mecca agreement and garner support for
the new government.
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