[With thanks to IMRA for alerting us to this release]
The Palestine National Authority (PNA) and the opposition groups have both confirmed that “dialogue” is a national decision and ruled out inter-Palestinian fighting to resolve a dispute that erupted over Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas’ commitments at the Palestinian-Israeli-US summit meeting in Aqaba last Wednesday.
The dispute erupted when the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas” officially announced on Friday that it was calling off its dialogue with the government of Prime Minister Abbas (Abu Mazen) in protest to his statement at the Wednesday summit meeting in the Jordanian Red Sea resort of Aqaba with his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon and US President George W. Bush.
PM Abbas declared there was “no military solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and called for an end to the “armed Intifada” (the Palestinian uprising against the 36-year-old Israeli occupation).
The PNA Information minister Nabil Amre said Saturday after a cabinet meeting that PM Abbas wanted to hold talks with all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas.
“Palestinian national dialogue is a strategic decision and we will continue dialogue with all the Palestinian factions,” Amr told reporters at a press conference at the Palestine Media Center- (PMC) in Ramallah.
“Stopping this dialogue will not help us achieve our national interests,” he said.
Amre also said he was optimistic talks would take place with Hamas at some point.
“It is necessary to meet Hamas. I am optimistic that we will reopen dialogue with Hamas,” he said.
“The only way to resolve the issue… is through dialogue, and whoever leaves the negotiating table is the loser.”
The Palestinian Parliament plans to hold a special session soon to hear a report from Abbas on the latest developments, Amre added.
Earlier, the PNA minister of culture Ziad Abu Amr told AFP following the cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, “Talks will be resumed this week and we will remove the reason that stopped the dialogue.”
“I think that after Abu Mazen (PM Abbas) has met the parliament and given the press conference on Monday, the position will be clear and we can resume dialogue where it stopped,” said Abu Amr, who is in charge of contacts with Palestinian factions.
Amre had previously announced the meetings would be held within two days, on Sunday or Monday.
Similarly, the PNA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath on Saturday confirmed that Abbas would never use force against Hamas and risk civil war.
“We either reach a voluntary cease-fire… or there will be no deal with Israel or road map,” Shaath said in an interview with Future TV, based in Lebanon. “Our friends in Hamas and Jihad should acknowledge this and act responsibly.”
Shaath however accused Hamas leaders of jumping the gun by pulling out of the talks before Abbas could meet with them to explain what happened in closed meetings at the summit.
“They listened to the speeches on television and declared their decision to stop the dialogue and stop listening,” he said.
Hamas officials simply were taking advantage of some Palestinian disappointment with Abbas’ speech, Shaath said. After Hamas’ decision to withdraw from the talks, thousands of supporters of the group rallied Friday to protest the summit.
But Hamas together with four other opposition groups echoed the PNA’s call for ruling out Palestinian in-fighting to resolve the dispute and stressed dialogue as the only means to reach an understanding with Abbas’ government.
“Differences over political issues are legitimate but this absolutely does not mean an in-fighting,” said Fatah’s higher committee member Samir Mashharawi.
Mashharawi represented Fatah in a Saturday evening meeting in Gaza with Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine DFLP).
“The intra-Palestinian differences on the questions raised (at the Aqaba and US-Arab Sharm El-Sheikh summits) should not prevent us from gathering and discussing them,” said Ibrahim Abu Al-Naja, the deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), who attended the meeting.
The five Palestinian movements however vowed to continue their armed intifada against the Israeli occupation, another participant at the joint meeting in Gaza City said.
“We decided to pursue the armed Intifada because we reject the conclusions of the Aqaba summit where resistance was equated with terrorism,” Mohammed el-Hindi of the Islamic Jihad told AFP.
In the meantime Palestinian Minister of Security Affairs Mohammed Dahlan on Saturday said that Hamas has no choice but to return to cease-fire talks with the PNA because if not then the movement would be seeking a confrontation with the PNA.
“Hamas had put the dialogue on hold, and Hamas has no other choice but to resume the dialogue simply because if they refuse, this means they want to have confrontation,” Dahlan told Reuters.
Palestine Media Center Press Release: www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?cat=1&id=824