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Photo by: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokma
Abbas and Mashaal agree on peaceful intifada
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
23/02/2013
PA president says he hopes US would play larger role in peace talks, adds Washington can't ignore UN upgrade of PA status.
 
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said over the weekend that he was in favor of a peaceful and popular resistance and that he and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal have reached agreement on the need for a peaceful intifada.

The two met in Cairo during a recent conference of Islamic countries.

Speaking during an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, Abbas said that he fully supported demonstrations against the security barrier and settlements, as well as Palestinian attempts to establish outposts in the West Bank, but stressed his opposition to violent measures.

“Armed resistance is banned,” he stressed. “This is a law and it is forbidden. It is also forbidden in the Gaza Strip.”

Abbas said that even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supported his call for peaceful protests.

The PA president said that the PA security forces in the West Bank have been arresting Palestinians who smuggle weapons from Israel.

“They smuggle weapons from Israel, including M-16 rifles and explosives,” he claimed. “These weapons could destroy my country. What am I going to do with all these Israeli weapons?” Turning to the prospect of negotiations with Israel, Abbas said that he did not expect a new government to change Jerusalem’s policy toward the peace process.

Abbas said he still did not know when US President Barack Obama would visit the region.

However, Obama’s visit to the region was a “significant indication that could revive the peace process, which has been completely frozen over the past four years,” he said.

The PA president said that the US would not be able to ignore the recent UN vote in favor of upgrading the Palestinians’ status to non-member state.

“America can’t say now that it does not recognize the UN vote,” Abbas said.

The Palestinians, he added, do not expect any change in the Israeli government’s policy in wake of last month’s general elections.

Abbas said that the Arab Spring has distracted attention from the Palestinian issue. Nevertheless he said, there was still a chance to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Commenting on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to entrust MK Tzipi Livni, head of The Tzipi Livni Party, with the task of negotiating with the Palestinians, Abbas said: “The question is whether he [Netanyahu] personally believes in the peace process? I hope that things have changed now. I also hope that the US will play a larger role than before.”

Abbas claimed that Netanyahu, unlike his predecessor, former prime minister Ehud Olmert, had refused over the past four years to discuss final-status issues with the Palestinians.

Abbas said he dispatched a Palestinian delegation to Washington to exchange views with US administration officials ahead of Obama’s planned visit to the region. He said the delegation would hold talks in Washington about the settlements and about Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Abbas said the Palestinians wanted the Americans to know that these were their demands for the resumption of the peace talks with Israel.
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