Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced Wednesday that he would meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on November 23 to discuss with him the implementation of the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation agreement between the two parties.

Addressing supporters in Ramallah on the anniversary of Palestinian “independence day” and the death of Yasser Arafat, Abbas said: “It’s our right and duty to meet with the leadership of Hamas, which represents an important part of the Palestinian people.”

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“We have the right to consult and exchange views with Hamas about the future. The future is not the business only of Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine or Hamas. It’s the business of all Palestinians.”

Abbas said that it was time that Palestinians ended their divisions and spoke in one voice.

“The division [between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip] has caused harm to the Palestinians and their cause and only serves the interests of Israeli occupation,” he said.

The PA leader said that he was determined to make every effort to reach an agreement on the implementation of the reconciliation accord that was announced in Cairo on May 4. He added that he was keen on holding presidential and parliamentary elections and the formation of a new government consisting of independent figures to supervise the vote.

With regards to the peace process, Abbas said that “we won’t succumb to the occupation and we won’t give up our rights.” He also voiced support for a peaceful and popular “resistance” in which foreign activists and Israeli peace advocates take part.

The Palestinians are seeking peace with Israel because they seek justice, Abbas said.

“We want a solution that ensures the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” he added. “We don’t want negotiations that evolve in a vicious cycle.”

Abbas stressed that he would not sign any peace treaty unless all Palestinians are released from Israeli prisons.

He also saluted the prisoners who were freed in the recent exchange between Israel and Hamas for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, calling them heroes and promising to provide them with homes and financial assistance.

Abbas said that the Palestinians should not feel frustrated over the failure of his statehood bid at the UN Security Council.

“We won’t backtrack,” he declared. “We went to the Security Council and we will go a second and third time. We won’t give up.”

Abbas said that the statehood bid was not aimed at delegitimizing or isolating Israel. However, he added, the PA seeks to isolate Israel’s policies in the international community.


MK Ahmed Tibi [United Arab List- Ta’al], who was one of the key speakers at the Ramallah rally, launched a scathing attack on the Israeli right-wingers, dubbing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman a “fascist settler.” Tibi said that the “day will come when they will propose a ‘death to Arabs’ law.”

Tibi hailed Arafat as “the eldest revolutionary” and “father of our homeland.” He also accused Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” in the Palestinian territories.

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