Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday called on Palestinians to “keep the ground aflame with popular resistance” against Israel. The Palestinians, he said, should not “underestimate the importance of popular resistance.”
In closing remarks in Ramallah to the PLO Central Council, a key decision-making body, Abbas called on Palestinians to protest at Khan al-Ahmar, the Bedouin shantytown located east of Ma’aleh Adumim which is slated for demolition.
He claimed the decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and evict its 180 residents was part of an Israeli plan to divide the West Bank.
Abbas repeated his demand that Hamas hand full control over the Gaza Strip to the Ramallah-based PA government. Otherwise, he said, Hamas should assume full responsibility over the coastal enclave.
“There should be one state, one system, one law and one security force in the Gaza Strip,” Abbas added. “If they [Hamas] don’t want to hand the responsibilities over to the Palestinian Authority, then they should assume their responsibilities.”
Abbas said that any funds earmarked for the Gaza Strip should be channeled only through the PA government.
The PLO council, which concluded a three-day conference, reaffirmed Palestinian opposition to US President Donald Trump’s
yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East and vowed to pursue efforts to thwart it.
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“The US administration is a partner of the Israeli occupation government,” the council alleged. “It is part of the problem, and not part of the solution.”
The Palestinians will continue with their policy of suspending political relations with the US administration until it backtracks on its “illegal decisions” regarding Jerusalem, refugees and settlements, the council said in its statement.
It was referring to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cut US funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, and what Palestinians perceive as US support for settlements.
The PLO delegates affirmed their commitment to the idea of holding an international conference for peace in the Middle East under international sponsorship, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
With regards to Palestinian-Israeli relations, the PLO council said, “The relationship of our people with the Israeli government is based on a conflict between our people and our state, which is under occupation, and the force of occupation. Our direct goal is the independence of the State of Palestine. This requires moving from the phase of self-rule to the phase of statehood.”
The council approved previous decisions taken by other Palestinian institutions, including the Palestinian National Council, to carry out a “comprehensive definition of political, economic, and security ties” with Israel, “revoke recognition of Israel until it recognizes the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, and suspend all forms of security coordination [with Israel].”
The PLO council also decided to form a “higher committee” to “safeguard” UNRWA and pursue efforts to provide the needed funds so that the UN agency would be able to assume its responsibilities toward Palestinian refugees.
Referring to current efforts to achieve a long-term truce between Israel and the Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip, the council said it was categorically opposed to “suspicious projects aimed at separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and the eternal capital of Palestine, Jerusalem.”
Palestinian factions are scheduled to resume their discussions concerning a truce with Israel after the four-day Eid al-Adha feast, which begins on Tuesday, Hamas officials said on Saturday.
Palestinian sources said they expected a truce agreement to be announced immediately after the Muslim holiday. According to the sources, “the last few days witnessed significant progress” in attempts made by the Egyptians and other parties to persuade the Palestinian factions to agree to a truce with Israel.
Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya told reporters in the Gaza Strip on Friday that the truce talks, which are taking place in Cairo, are in the “final stretch.”
Last week, Egypt summoned representatives of several Gaza-based factions, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second largest terrorist group in the coastal enclave, to Cairo for talks on a cease-fire with Israel and ways of ending the Hamas-Fatah power struggle.
Hamas is working to ensure the success of the Egyptian efforts to achieve a truce “and end the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip,” al-Hayya said.
According to al-Hayya, the Palestinian factions that met in Cairo during the past week have reached agreement on the “vision of reconciliation [between Hamas and Fatah], calm [with Israel], ending the siege on the Gaza Strip, and paving the way for carrying out humanitarian projects in the Gaza Strip.”
The Hamas official said his movement and other Palestinian factions tried to convince Palestinians to halt launching incendiary kites and balloons to enable the success of efforts to achieve calm along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
“We don’t want to give an excuse to some inside the Israeli entity and some regional parties that want the siege on the Gaza Strip to continue,” al-Hayya added.
The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily reported on Saturday that the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, Abbas Kamel, who paid a secret visit to Israel last week, “came back with good Israeli answers to several issues, including a sea passage for goods to the Gaza Strip.”
Meanwhile, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat criticized Hamas for holding indirect negotiations with Israel over a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. He said any deal between Hamas and Israel would form the basis for US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.
Erekat told the Palestinian Authority’s Voice of Palestine radio station that Trump’s unseen plan was aimed at “destroying the Palestinian national project.” The PLO, he argued, was the only party authorized to reach any deal over a cease-fire with Israel.
Erekat warned any agreement between a Palestinian faction and Israel would solidify the state of division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Likewise, the PLO council stressed there will be “no state in the Gaza Strip, and no state without the Gaza Strip.”
“The truce with the Israeli occupation is the national responsibility of the PLO, which is the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” the PLO council said Saturday. “It is not a factional issue.”
The council called on the Palestinian Authority government to immediately cancel all measures it had taken with regard to salaries and financial payments to civil servants in the Gaza Strip. It also praised the “heroic” Hamas-sponsored protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which are being held in the context of the so-called “March of Return.”
The PLO council called on Palestinians to step up and expand the “popular resistance” against Israel and support the anti-Israel BDS movement.
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