Hamas Rejects International Troops in Gaza

GAZA CITY — The Palestinian movement Hamas on Saturday, June 30, rejected President Mahmoud Abbas’s call for deploying international troops in the Gaza Strip to pave the way for holding early elections in the occupied Palestinian territories.

"The Palestinian situation is extremely complicated and can not be solved by deploying international troops or holding snap polls," Ghazi Hamad, the spokesman for the sacked Hamas-led government, told reporters.

He said that Hamas has always supported neutral monitors for any election, citing past cases.

"But deploying international troops at present would have negative consequences on the already complicated Palestinian situation. What kind of mission will these troops assume? Are they the one and only solution to our problems? I think we should deal with the Israeli occupation first," he added.

Hamas’s military wing also threatened resistance against the deployment of international troops in the strip, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

"We would regard such a force as an army of occupation and we would forcibly resist it," said the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

"We appeal to the international community and to Arab states to reject this request which could harm Palestinian unity."

Following his talks with French President Nicolas Sarkzoy on Friday, Abbas made his international force plea.

”I proposed an international force in Gaza to President Sarkozy to ensure the elections can be held peacefully," he said.

"We want to maintain the unity of the Palestinian people and their cause through holding early elections and deploying international troops to provide security for the polls."

But Hamas staunchly oppose early election, arguing it came to power through democratic legislative elections.

"Dialogue between the Palestinian factions is the only solution," Hamad said.

Abbas sacked the Hamas-led unity government after Hamas routed the Palestinian security forces in Gaza. He installed an emergency cabinet under Salam Fayyad in the West Bank.

Hamas said it was forced to take an action against what it called "crimes" committed by Fatah security forces and loyalists against its members.

Last week, the PLO’s Central Council called on Abbas to hold early elections.

Palestinian presidential and legislative elections are originally scheduled for 2009 and 2010 respectively.

French Reservations

Though affirming "full and complete support" for Abbas, France made reservations about the deployment of international troops in the Gaza Strip.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Friday Paris backs Abbas’s call, but added that he did not think that deploying international troops in the Strip was a solution to the current Palestinian standoff.

Deploying international troops "can not replace dialogue," between Palestinian factions, he added.

Regional heavyweight Egypt, a key mediator between Palestinian factions, has already voiced its opposition to sending international troops to Gaza, warning of grave consequences.

Abbas’s visit to France was the first since Sarkozy took over from Jacques Chirac on May 16.

France has announced that it will resume bilateral aid to the Palestinian Authority.

It announced last week it was releasing $15 million in funds for the Palestinian Authority.

(Islamonline.net + News Agencies – June 30, 2007)

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