(photo credit: reuters)
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is willing to give up hundreds of
millions of dollars of US aid if that is what is necessary to forge a
reconciliation deal with Hamas, the Associated Press quoted his adviser
as saying on Monday.
Azzam Ahmed stated that "the Palestinians
need American money, but if they use it as a way of pressuring us, we
are ready to relinquish that aid."
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According to official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA, Abbas also requested that the Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO) Executive Committee convene the body's Constitution Committee as quickly as possible, either in Amman or Cairo, in order to begin drafting amendments to the organization's charter.
The committee first convened in 2005 following the Cairo Declaration which outlined the makeup of the committee's members as well as its purpose and goals. The declaration also stated that the committee would be comprised of secretary generals from all Palestinian factions, and that it would be the sole representative of the Palestinian people.
Since 2005, the committee has not successfully drafted amendments to the PLO charter, and has not convened since Hamas was elected to power in 2006.
Over the weekend, Abbas
met with a Hamas delegation from the West Bank in Ramallah to discuss ways of ending the dispute between his Fatah faction and the
Islamist movement. It was the first such meeting in more than a year.
It followed Abbas’s recent offer to visit the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas leaders on achieving Palestinian unity.
The offer has divided Hamas leaders. While some have welcomed it, others
have announced that Abbas was unwelcome in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas briefed the Hamas officials on his initiative, saying it was aimed
at discussing the formation of a new government that consists of
independent figures to prepare for presidential and legislative
elections, and rebuild the Gaza Strip.
Hours after the meeting, a senior government official said that Israel
will stop dealing with the Palestinian Authority if it brings Hamas into
“Abbas has to choose whether he wants peace with Israel, or peace with
Hamas,” the official said. “He can’t have both. If he chooses peace with
Hamas it will bury the peace process.”
Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.