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Fatah declares 'war' on normalization with Israel
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
12/17/2011
Abbas party's decision comes after week of Israeli, Palestinian meetings being sabotaged by Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction has declared war on all informal meetings between Israelis and Palestinians, Hatem Abdel Kader, a senior Fatah official, said over the weekend.

Fatah’s decision came following a series of meetings between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and academics to promote peace and “normalization” between the two sides.

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Last week, Palestinians thwarted an attempt by a group called the Israeli Palestinian Confederation to hold a conference in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

At the conference, Israelis and Palestinians were expected to vote for a joint parliament that would offer itself as a “third government” for the two peoples.

Palestinian protesters stormed the Ambassador Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem and forced the Israeli organizers and hotel management to cancel the event.

The following day, a similar anti-normalization protest in Bethlehem forced the group to cancel a planned conference near the city.

Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh, who was supposed to speak at the conference, had to cancel his appearance after receiving threats from Palestinian activists belonging to Fatah and other groups.

The Fatah leadership fears that the Israeli government would exploit such meetings to tell the world that there is some kind of dialogue going on between Israelis and Palestinians and that the only problem is with the PA leadership, which is refusing to return to the negotiating table, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper reported.

Abdel Kader, a former PA minister for Jerusalem affairs, revealed that the Fatah leadership has decided to foil all informal meetings between Israelis and Palestinians.

“We will try to thwart any Palestinian Israeli meeting, even if it’s held in Tel Aviv or west Jerusalem,” Abdel Kader said. “In Fatah we have officially decided to ban such gatherings.”

He said that it was inconceivable that such meetings are being held at a time when Israel continues to build settlements and refuses to accept the pre- 1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.

The PA leadership has repeatedly announced that it won’t resume peace talks unless Israel accepts the two preconditions – cessation of settlement construction and recognition of the pre-1967 lines.

Abdel Kader criticized Nusseibeh for agreeing to meet with Israeli academics, politicians and peace activists “in violation of instructions by the Palestinian leadership” in the West Bank.

“These meetings don’t produce anything [for the Palestinians] and are only used by Israel for political gains,” the Fatah leader explained. “If all the meetings the Palestinian leadership has had with the Americans, Europeans and Quartet representatives haven’t achieved anything, how can these informal meetings lead to any results?”

Abdel Kader also said that Israeli political parties were trying to take advantage of informal meetings to win the votes of “so-called moderates” in Israel.
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