Palestinian offers Hamas unity deal

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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