Hamas condemns PA for agreeing to talk to Israel

"Quartet serves Israel's interests," Hamas says; PFLP says PA decision to meet with Israel is a "grave political mistake."

January 2, 2012 15:40
2 minute read.
Khaled Mashaal and Mahmoud Abbas.

Mashaal with Abbas 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters)

Hamas leaders in Gaza on Monday called on the Palestinian Authority to cancel a meeting with Israeli negotiators set to take place in Amman on Tuesday, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

On Sunday, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry announced that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet in Jordan for direct talks. This will be the first public direct meeting between the sides in more than a year.

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"We urge the PNA [Palestinian Authority] to cancel this meeting," Hamas spokesman in Gaza Sami Abu Zuhri told Xinhua.

The spokesman also charged that the Quartet – made up of the US, EU, Russia and the UN – is controlled by the United States and serves Israel's interests, according to Xinhua.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) on Monday also criticized the PA for holding direct talks with Israel, calling the decision a "grave political mistake."

Meeting with Israel after the conflict has already been taken to bodies of the United Nations "will encourage [the] occupation to go ahead with its aggressiveness against the Palestinian people and their properties," the PFLP said in a written statement reported by Palestinian news agency Ma'an.

The PFLP further alleged that the direct meeting will encourage Arab, Islamic and international actors "to evade their political, legal and moral responsibilities," the statement added.

One Israeli official said there have been intensive behind-the-scenes talks over the last few days between Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and the Quartet to arrange the talks.

Israel will be represented by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho, and the Palestinians are expected to be represented by PA negotiator Saeb Erekat.

While Defense Minister Ehud Barak and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed the talks, the Palestinian Authority tempered expectations of the meeting, emphasizing that it did not signify a renewal of negotiations.

Wasl Abu Yossef, a senior figure in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's umbrella PLO executive, described Tuesday's meeting as a forum for the sides to "offer their positions on security and borders" as requested by the Quartet in October.

"This is not a resumption of negotiations," Abu Yossef told Reuters in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas's administration.

Erekat said the meeting would be "part of ongoing Jordanian efforts to compel Israel to comply with its international legal obligations ... specifically its obligation to freeze all settlement construction".

Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon contributed to this report

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