Abbas chides Mashaal for rejecting deal with Israel

Abbas chides Mashaal for rejecting deal with Israel

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Abbas chides Mashaal for rejecting deal with Israel

Palestinian President Abbas (L) meets with Turkish PM Erdoğan in Ankara. Abbas criticizes Hamas chief Mashaal for rejecting a possible deal with Israel.

Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has hit out at Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s statement that his group will “never recognize the state of Israel” amid continuing efforts to finally the two main Palestinian groups.

“I don’t agree with Khaled Mashaal’s statement on the non-recognition of Israel because we, in fact, recognized it in 1993,” Abbas told a group of reporters in Ankara following his two-day visit. “A four-article agreement between [Fatah and Hamas] stipulates a two-state vision. And Mashaal approved of this agreement.”

During his landmark visit to Gaza, Mashaal said, “We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.” At a moment when Hamas and Fatah are trying to narrow their differences and establish a united government that would hold elections in the entirety of Palestine, disagreement on the recognition of Israel seems to be an important issue between the two sides.

Abbas and Mashaal held a half-hour phone conversation yesterday morning discussing both sides’ objectives to create unification under Egyptian mediation. Abbas announced earlier that talks with Mashaal would resume in two weeks’ time in Cairo with a common commitment to accomplish the process as soon as possible.

Recalling that 138 countries voted for Palestine’s non-member observer state status at the United Nations, Abbas said it was now their duty to unite immediately and focus on their final goal. “Our first step in this regard is to reach reconciliation. We have taken these steps with Hamas and Egypt,” he said.

Noting that they had also agreed to receive more Turkish assistance in the diplomatic and legal arena as they prepare to apply for membership in 16 international institutions and 31 international protocols, Abbas said Turkey’s permanent representative at the U.N. would be in constant consultation with his Palestinian counterpart. Furthermore, Turkey will afterward provide expertise in their legal actions.

E1 is the ‘red line’
However, Palestine’s road to recognition as a full state is not free of obstacles. For the president, they have two important challenges. The first is the Israeli government’s continued settlement policies, which are now targeted at dividing the West Bank through what the Israeli government calls the “E1 settlement plan.”

“This E1 plan is a very dangerous one. It’s aiming at splitting the West Bank into two parts. If Israel begins the construction, we will not be patient. Then we will use every peaceful and diplomatic means to stop this settlement,” Abbas said, without directly stating whether those means included filing a complaint to the International Criminal Court.

“Our status has changed after the vote and this gives us additional opportunities, but I will not name them now,” he said, hinting that they could consider an application to the ICC.

A second problem is Israel’s decision to seize the tax revenues of Palestine as a reaction to the U.N. vote. Abbas said they knew Israel and the United States could try to block Palestine’s financial channels and that the Arab League promised to provide $100 million to Palestine on a monthly basis.