Abbas: Coalition talks going nowhere

Tells Bahraini FM: "There is no dialogue ... we have to start from square one."

By JPOST STAFF, AP
October 3, 2006 23:24
3 minute read.
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that talks with Hamas on forming a more moderate coalition government have broken down. Abbas also said a new Cabinet must be formed within two weeks to end a recent surge in violence that claimed 10 lives in three days. He did not elaborate.

  • Burning Issues #4: Should Israel support Abbas?
  • Analysis: Bad for PA doesn't mean good for Israel Abbas added that any new Palestinian government must honor agreements that had been previously signed by the PA. "There is no dialogue now," Abbas said at a news conference with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa. A preliminary coalition agreement announced on Sept. 11 "is over now, and we have to start from square one," he said. Earlier in the day violence between the two factions resumed, as local Hamas leader, Muhammad Uda, was shot to death as he was exiting morning prayers at a mosque in the village of Hableh near the West Bank Palestinian town of Kalkilya. Uda, 37, said witnesses, was shot by three masked men who fired from a passing vehicle. The vehicle, said the witnesses, had an Israeli license plate. It was not clear who was responsible for the shooting. The IDF said it was not involved. On Tuesday, Hamas responded to Fatah threats against its hierarchy by saying that any attempt to harm its leaders would lead to an all-out confrontation with Fatah. It said political assassinations would prompt it to resort to "scorched earth" tactics. The rival parties on Tuesday observed an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, and no major incidents of violence were reported. However, Fatah gunmen in Nablus set two vehicles belonging to Hamas institutions on fire. No casualties were reported. The warning came in response to a leaflet distributed late Monday night by Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which called for "executing" Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Said Siam and Youssef al-Zahar, the commander of the 3,000-strong Hamas "back-up" force in the Gaza Strip. Hamas legislator and spokesman Mushir al-Masri described the authors of the leaflet as "agents of the Zionist occupation." He said the threats were issued by a "hired gang that claims to be a nationalist force, but is in fact helping the Zionist occupation achieve what it had failed to achieve... This leaflet reflects the moral and political decline of this suspicious gang." He repeated charges that the latest crisis in the PA territories was part of a well-planned attempt by some Fatah leaders to stage a coup against the Hamas-led government. "We call on the leaders of this mutiny not to get involved in political assassinations and to refrain from attacking Hamas institutions and figures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," he said. Fatah leaders sought to distance themselves from the leaflet, stressing that they were opposed to political assassinations. "We are strongly opposed to political assassinations from all sides," said Muhammad Hourani, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank. "Political assassinations and violence are a red line that must not be crossed." Azzam al-Ahmed, a Fatah legislator and close aide to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said Abbas was planning to give Hamas another two weeks to reconsider its policies before dismissing the government. "There is a consensus among all the Palestinian factions that the negotiations over the formation of a unity government cannot continue forever," he said. "That's why we will give Hamas two more weeks to reach an agreement on the political platform of the unity government. After that, President Abbas will use his powers to dismiss the government and call new elections." PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh rejected the ultimatum. "The Palestinians don't need new elections now," he told reporters in Gaza City. "What we need now is national unity and an end to the internal fighting." Meanwhile, Fatah and Hamas officials said they were unaware of a Qatari initiative aimed at resolving the crisis in the PA and achieving peace with Israel. Palestinian sources in Ramallah claimed on Tuesday that the plan was presented to Abbas and Mashaal during their recent visit to Qatar. According to the sources, the six-point plan calls for the formation of a PA government that would be headed by an independent figure and that would include members of Hamas and Fatah. It also calls for ending the conflict with Israel on the basis of two states next to each other, an end to all forms of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit as part of a prisoner exchange and a commitment on the part of the new government to abide by all previous agreements with Israel.


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