Palestinian offers Hamas unity deal
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Last Updated: Sunday, February 20, 2011, 23:27
  
Jenin: The Palestinian Authority prime minister on Sunday angrily denounced the US veto of a United Nations resolution condemning Israel's West Bank settlements and offered to form a unity government with the rival Hamas militant group.

The comments reflected the Palestinians' frustration over US-led peace efforts, which have made little headway during President Barack Obama's term in office.

During a trip to this West Bank town, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad urged the Americans to "reconsider their approach" after vetoing a Security Council resolution that would have declared Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to be illegal. The measure was supported by the council's 14 other members.

"The Americans have chosen to be alone in disrupting the internationally backed Palestinian efforts," Fayyad said in an interview with a news agency.

The Palestinians, along with the international community, say Israeli settlements on occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians are illegal. At Friday's Security Council meeting, the US said it agreed with this position, but did not believe the United Nations is the appropriate place to resolve the dispute.

Palestinian officials quoted Obama as telling them that if he had gone forward with the measure, Israel's supporters in Congress had threatened to withhold financial aid to the Palestinians.

"I found this offensive," Fayyad said. "We are not willing to compromise our national enterprise for a fistful of dollars, however big or small."

The Palestinians receive more than USD 200 million a year in direct financial assistance from the US, making Washington the largest individual donor to Fayyad's government.

US-backed peace talks broke down in late September, just three weeks after their launch, after a limited Israeli freeze on settlement construction ended. The Palestinians have refused to talk if Israel continues to build homes for Jews on the land the Palestinians seek for their future state, calling it a sign of bad faith.

With peace talks stalled and calls for democracy rising throughout the Middle East, Fayyad's boss, President Mahmoud Abbas, said this month he would hold overdue general elections in September.

But the Hamas militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip, the other territory claimed by the Palestinians, has said it would boycott the vote unless there is reconciliation first. Hamas won a parliamentary election in 2006, and a year later violently routed Abbas' forces and seized full control of Gaza.

Abbas has since appeared to backpedal, saying elections could not be held without Gaza. Seeking to resolve the deadlock, Fayyad proposed forming a unity government with Hamas in order to hold the election on time.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, February 20, 2011, 23:27


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