Erekat on unity: respect our democracy

Posted: April 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Abu Mazen: Like it or not, Hamas is part of Palestinian people.

Ramallah - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared today that the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas shouldn’t stand in the way of future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In a meeting with representatives of “Israel Initiatives,” a group of businessmen and veteran security officials who advocate a solution based on the Arab League Peace Initiative, Abbas said, “I am ready to talk. If Prime Minister Netanyahu calls me tomorrow, I will talk to him.” The reason for the breakdown of negotiations, Abbas said, is Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement activity and to discuss the future borders of the Palestinian state.

“I have met Netanyahu in Washington and in Jerusalem, and it led to nothing,” Abbas said. “All he wants to talk about is security. I understand the Israeli concern, but I won’t have Israeli forces in the Palestinian state. Netanyahu wanted an Israeli army in the West Bank for another forty years. That means the occupation continues.”

Abbas declared that he will not chose between Hamas and the peace process, as Netanyahu demands. “Hamas is a part of the Palestinian people, whether one likes them or not. They are a part of our people. You, Mr. Netanyahu, are our partner. We don’t need to choose. It’s you, Netanyahu, that needs to make a choice between peace and settlements.”

Regarding declarations from Hamas leaders rejecting the diplomatic process, Abbas said that the united Hamas-Fatah goverment will deal only with the rebuilding of Gaza and the preparation of new elections, due to take place no later than a year from now. “The PLO will continue to lead the political process. It is our duty.”

Abbas refused to say if Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will continue to lead the Palestinian government, claiming that details of the reconciliation agreement haven’t been finalized. Yet rumors among the journalists in Ramallah were that the agreement has taken Fayyad by surprise, and that he only learned of it a short time before the deal was made public.

The reputation of the Prime Minister might pose the first challenge for the Palestinian president, since Fayyad is identified with the diplomatic and financial support the Palestinians have achieved in recent years.

Among other Palestinian officials present were former head of security Jabril Rajoub, who was rarely seen together with Abu Mazen in recent years, and former chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who added his own comment to questions from the Israeli media regarding the reconciliation agreement. “This is about peace, but also about democracy,” he  said. “We respect the democratic choices of the Israeli people. We ask Israel to respect ours.”

Among those present on the Israeli side were former head of Mossad, Danny Yatom, former Labor Minister Moshe Shahal, business tycoon Idan Ofer and Adina Bar Shalom, the daughter of Shas leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

“I’m glad I came to Ramallah today,” said Bar Shalom. “I feel that we have a partner.”

The Camp David Casualties

Posted: March 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Left, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Shlomo Ben Ami, Israel’s Foreign minister and Internal Security minister under Ehud Barak, was interviewed this weekend by Maariv (in fact, I edited this article). Ben Ami, who took part in the failed Camp David summit between Barak, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat, has retired from politics and now heads the Toledo Peace Center. Talking from his office in Spain, he had some warm words for Barak, Ehud Olmert, and most notably, Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he described as a “very intelligent, knowledgeable and brave politician”.

And that’s what he had to say about the peace process:

“There is no such thing as a ‘peace process’ anymore. The idea of two states for two people is irrelevant and unattractive both to us and to the Palestinians… Hamas doesn’t want the two states solution. The Palestinians have reached a very similar situation to ours: they don’t believe that Abu Mazen will bring peace, and they think Hamas will do a better job. We don’t believe that Bibi or Tzipi (Livni) will bring peace as well. And we are all right.”

Q: who then will bring peace?

“We should let the Palestinians have their national unity government, Fatah with Hamas, overcome our emotional barrier, and negotiate with both. It was very foolish not to agree to that in Mecca. I’m not sure that Hamas will oppose (negotiations). Sometimes I think the problem will be with the Fatah.”

And later on:

Q: what shall we talk about with Hamas?

“We should talk about ending the occupation and establishing a Jordanian-Palestinian state in the West Bank… an agreement with a state like Jordan can be maintained. They have order, discipline and real state administration. The Palestinians never had their state, they remain an anarchic movement with no direction, no patron, that’s why it is so hard to reach an agreement with them”.

It is almost unimaginable that Jordan will take the Palestinian state on its tiny shoulders, and on top of all things, accept Hamas as its partner. It will bring only trouble to the fragile kingdom. It seems that much like Ehud Barak and the rest of the Camp David casualties, Ben Ami is so disappointed with the Fatah, that he prefers to negotiate with anyone else. The only problem is that there is no one else. Not really. Whether we like it or not, there is no real alternative to the two states solution.

(On one thing I do agree with Ben Ami: that we have to talk to Hamas. It’s only appropriate. After all, we got our own Hamas elected as well).

and now what?

Posted: December 31st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, war | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I had a busy week, partly because of the war, and couldn’t update the blog with my thoughts on the events in Gaza. I guess that’s the problem with being a journalist.

I oppose the war. I think it is immoral and unwise.

On the moral side, I don’t agree with the common Israeli point of view, according to which “we left Gaza and they kept firing rockets”. Israel evacuated the settlements, but kept the siege on Gaza, probably in hope that it would topple the Hamas (This policy, of putting the pressure on civilians in hope of replacing the Arab leadership, is not only immoral, but it also failed us again and again, both in the West Bank and in Lebanon). This does not justify the rockets that were fired on Israel, but since Israel refused to even consider removing the siege or ruled out negotiations with the Hamas, it left the other side with very few options.

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