Palestinian ‘unity’ angers Israel

TEL AVIV: Moves by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seal reconciliation with Hamas drew an angry response in Israel on Friday, with one government minister even calling for the annexation of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

After talks with Abbas in Cairo on Thurday that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said were held in an “excellent atmosphere,” the two men agreed on a process that would pave the way for the Islamist group to join a reformed Palestine Liberation Organisation  (PLO) and for long delayed Palestinian elections.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, said the deal with the rulers of Gaza was proof that the Palestinian president was not interested in peace.

“Hamas is not a political movement that resorts to terrorism but a group whose whole vocation is terrorism,” Regev declared.

“The closer President Abbas moves to Hamas, the further he moves away from peace.”

Transport Minister Israel Katz, a hard-liner from Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, said Israel should respond by unilaterally annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank as it did Arab East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights.

“Israel must impose its sovereignty on all Jewish districts of Judaea and Samaria (the Israeli-given name to the West Bank),” Katz told public radio.

“Israel must also make preparations to ensure the safety of its citizens in the face of this terrorist organisation backed by Iran,” he added.”Finally, we need to take the necessary steps to ensure that the Jewish population (of the West Bank) has ready access to all corners of the state of Israel.”

“This alarming rapprochement between Abu Mazen (Abbas) and Hamas is aimed at forming a government that one can only say is aimed at bringing about a genocide,” he charged.

“Since the dark days of Nazism, no other movement has set as its aim the killing of Jews.”

Israel has expressed mounting alarm as Abbas’s secular Fatah faction has intensified efforts to reconcile with Hamas in recent weeks.

“This is a new departure on the path to joining the PLO of all Palestinian movements,” Meshaal said following the talks in the Egyptian capital.

The Cairo meeting also included Egyptian intelligence chief Murad Muwafi and Palestinian independents. Independent member of parliament Mustafa Barghouti said the participation of unaffiliated

delegates such as himself and businessman Munib Al Masri alongside representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad was “a historic event.”

“It is the first time there is a unified leadership for all political and intellectual streams,” he said.

Abbas and Meshaal have met three times in the past month to thrash out implementation of a surprise deal they signed in May.

The two factions had previously been at loggerheads ever since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, leaving the Palestinian territories with rival administrations.

In a statement, Hamas said the groups had decided to create an electora commission, including members of every Palestinian faction, tasked with managing elections within the PLO.

The commission will be led the speaker of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), Selim Zaanoun, and will meet in Jordan’s capital next month.

“A law concerning elections to the PLO was given to the participants for them to study and each movement is to give its response for January 15 so that it can be discusssed at the first meeting of the commission”, the statement added.

( / 23.12.2011)

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