Abbas Urges Dialogue

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, June 4, called for a comprehensive inter-Palestinian dialogue to end Palestinian divisions.

"I’m inviting a comprehensive national dialogue to implement the Yemeni initiative," Abbas said in a televised speech.

Abbas’s Fatah movement and rival Hamas signed a Yemeni-brokered reconciliation deal in March to open their first direct talks since Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip.

The initiative calls for a return to the status quo that existed in Gaza before Hamas routed security forces loyal to Abbas last June.

It calls for the restoration of the national unity government in power before the Hamas’ takeover and for early elections.

The text, signed by Fatah parliamentary leader Azzam al-Ahmed and Hamas number two Mussa Abu Marzuk, said the dialogue aims to "reconfirm the unity of the Palestinian homeland in terms of its land, people and the Palestinian Authority."

Tensions between Fatah and Hamas have mounted since Hamas swept parliamentary polls in January 2006.

The feud worsened amid a Western aid boycott of the Hamas-led government and boiled over into bloody fighting in December 2006.

The two groups agreed to share power in a Saudi-brokered deal in February 2007, with a coalition cabinet installed a month later.

But mutual distrust meant the cohabitation did not last long with the two groups engaging in bloody fighting that led to Hamas’ takeover and Abbas’s sacking of the unity government headed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.

Obama’s Comments

President Abbas slammed remarks by US Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama about Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).

"This is nonsense. The remarks are rejected lock, stock and barrel."

Obama said earlier Wednesday that Jerusalem must remain the "undivided" capital of Israel.

"Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided," he told the annual policy conference of the powerful US-Israel lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Council (AIPAC).

"As president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security," Obama said, reiterating support to Israel as a "Jewish" state.

Abbas insisted that Al-Quds will be the capital of the independent Palestinian state.

"There will be no Palestinian state without Al-Quds as its capital."

Israel captured Al-Quds in the six-day 1967 war before annexing the holy city and declaring it part of its eternal undivided capital, a claim not recognized by the UN or the world community.

The holy city is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam’s third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Palestinians insist the city will be the capital of their future independent state.


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