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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided on Wednesday to reward all the activists on board the flotilla aid ships by giving them Palestinian citizenship.
Abbas announced the decision during a speech before the Palestine Investment Conference, which was launched in Bethlehem.
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325 activists to be flown home
He also announced that the name of the conference has been changed to the Conference of Freedom after the Free Gaza flotilla.
Abbas accused Israel of waging “state terrorism” and called on the UN Security Council, the Quartet and other international bodies to provide protection for the Palestinians and to work toward lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
He also demanded the establishment of an international commission of inquiry into Monday’s incident at sea.
“We won’t accept a situation where the peace process is being used as a means to avoid peace and its obligations,” Abbas said. “We want to ask the world: When will this repression and occupation end? When will bloodshed end and real peace prevail?”
Abbas expressed hope that the Palestinian reaction to the “massacre” would be to achieve unity between his Fatah faction and Hamas, saying this was much better than all forms of denunciation and criticism.
He said that despite the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah, the PA was continuing to allocate 58 percent of its budget for the Gaza Strip’s 1.5 million residents.
He said that Palestinians were facing Israeli “terrorism” on a daily basis through killings, checkpoints, the security fence, deportation, land confiscation and the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
“Jerusalem is surrounded by isolation walls,” Abbas said. “Gaza is under siege, Hebron is divided, Bethlehem is isolated and its lands have been stolen.”
Abbas also praised Turkey for “standing up to Israeli terrorism.”
Hamas and PA unlikely to come together soon
Abbas and Hamas are under heavy pressure to patch up their differences in the wake of the sea confrontation between the IDF and the Free Gaza activists.
Abbas is planning to send a high-level delegation of Fatah and PLO officials to the Gaza Strip in the coming days to discuss ways of ending the crisis. The delegation will be headed by Nablus businessman Munib al-Masri.
However, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar ruled out the possibility that the two sides would reach an agreement on ending the dispute in the near future.
“We are ready for reconciliation, but there are still some issues that
need to be resolved,” he said. “Visits to Gaza [by Fatah and the PLO]
would not change anything as long as the intentions are bad.”
Meanwhile, Ziad al-Thatha, deputy prime minister in the Hamas
government, called on the Arab countries to withdraw their support for
the Saudi peace plan of 2002, which is also known as the Arab Peace
He said that such a step was needed to pave the way for prosecuting Israeli leaders as war criminals in international tribunals.
The Hamas official also denied that the activists aboard the ships had
been carrying large amounts of cash intended for the Islamist movement.
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