Abbas: Palestinians don't need armed struggle

PA president tells Russia Today that Hamas has agreed to support diplomatic effort during reconciliation talks.

March 17, 2013 09:30
2 minute read.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas at PLO meeting in West Bank, January 29, 2013.

Abbas at PLO meeting in West Bank 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokma)


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There is no need for an intifada, the Palestinians can achieve their goals peacefully, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said last week during a visit to Moscow.

"My opinion is that today there’s no need for Palestinians to go back to fighting. The balance of forces is not in our favor, so it will only lead to the country’s destruction," he told Russia Today. "Our people can achieve their goals through peaceful means, like it happened at the UN. But it’s not easy."

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This isn't the first time Abbas has strongly advocated for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In an interview with Channel 2 in November, Abbas condemned Hamas's firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, and stressed that the Palestinians "don't want to use terror, we don't want to use force. We want to use diplomacy and negotiations."

Abbas asserts that following reconciliation talks in Cairo, Hamas now supports this stance, and will join Fatah in pursuing a peaceful, diplomatic solution.

"That’s what we agreed on during our meeting in Cairo, and several months ago at the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation we reaffirmed that the Palestinian people have the right to non-violent resistance. We are going back to the negotiating process," he vowed.

While some Hamas leaders have repeatedly called for a third intifada, Abbas told Russia Today that "all this talk stopped at the Cairo meeting, which was sponsored by the US and Egypt. Now this is Hamas’s official stance. Pay no attention to the odd Hamas members that say different."

Abbas also stressed that the Egyptian government, that mediated the reconciliation talks, is responsible to prevent Hamas from breaching the agreement between the Palestinian factions and to prevent any arms smuggling from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. "Now that [Hamas leader Khaled] Mashaal has signed up to these agreements, he should stick to them – and this has nothing to do with pressure."

While advocating for peace, Abbas repeated his frequent call for Israel to halt construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Palestinian president has demanded a settlement construction freeze as a precursor to renewed negotiations. Prime Minister Binyamin Netnayahu, who implemented a 10-month freeze in 2010 at the behest of the US, maintains that a new moratorium on building in the settlements would not be a “precondition for the resumption of peace talks."

"The UN Human Rights Council clearly stated that this policy [building in settlements] is illegal and demanded a withdrawal of all settlers. If the current Israeli government continues with this rhetoric, there won’t be any negotiations," he said.

"All Arabs and all Muslims are ready to have peace with Israel. Arabs are not going to attack Israel after it withdraws from the occupied territories," he added.

The Palestinian Authority president expressed hope that the upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama will bring to the halting of settlement constructions. "President Obama has repeatedly voiced his opposition to illegal land expropriation, and we think he’s right. Now all that remains is to translate words into action," Abbas said.

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