abbas speaks 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict took center stage Wednesday at a conference of Nobel laureates here, as Jordan's King Abdullah II hosted an event bringing together some of the best minds in the world to come up with ideas for ending the conflict.
Responding to a challenge by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel to declare suicide attacks "crimes against humanity," PA President Mahmoud Abbas responded in the affirmative. "First of all, as Muslims, it is a crime to commit suicide. Muslims believe that if you commit suicide, you go to hell and
that goes without saying for killing others."
Laureates, guests and famous cultural personalities attended numerous sessions on the various aspects of global challenges. However, the main talk of the conference was the impending meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas at a Thursday breakfast hosted by the king.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres reiterated that the informal meeting between Olmert and Abbas would "not be a practical meeting." "These meetings have to be carefully prepared. You have to be careful that when you begin a meeting, you must know what the end result of the meeting will be," he told journalists.
At the end of a 20-minute private meeting with Abdullah, Peres said they spoke about ways to create an economic process concurrent to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Peres told The Jerusalem Post that he and Abdullah had not spoken about Olmert's proposed unilateral realignment plan - a plan Jordan staunchly opposes as it fears the chaos now taking place in the Gaza Strip may replicate itself on its doorstep.
Wiesel hosted Abbas at a panel conversation during which Abbas said that there were signs that Hamas may move to adopt the prisoner's initiative. Peres and Abbas met briefly after Abbas's conversation with Wiesel.
Peres added that Israel could not move forward with fruitful peace talks as long as the internal Palestinian struggle was not resolved. "Hamas won and established a government. But Hamas is not able to govern. The problem is not only diplomatic, it is military too. [The Palestinians] have 14 armies there. If there will be no unity between them, then that signals the end. The situation there is not over yet. They have to resolve the relationship between themselves and Israel can do nothing but wait until that happens," he said.
Abbas, in the conversation with Wiesel, called on the Israeli government to immediately enter into negotiations. "For the past five years the Israelis have been saying there is no partner on the Palestinian side. We say to the Israelis - we are your partners. Everyone should stop [the violence], sit down at a table and talk. We have the 1993 [Oslo Accords] model.
He added that the current "dangerous crisis" among the Palestinians stemmed from a disagreement over the interpretation of the Palestinian Authority's constitution, which granted executive powers to the PA president, while the Palestinian Legislative Council, which is dominated by Hamas, worked to help the president implement his decisions. The PLC, Abbas said, was not entitled to decide on affairs of state, as Hamas claims. Abbas added that the current violence was not between Fatah and Hamas, but between the PA security forces and the "illegal militia" established by Interior Minister Said Siam. "This force should be dissolved, and its members reenlisted legally into a legal Palestinian security force," he added.
Abbas said that the Hamasled PA should be given more time to adapt its policies and criticized some in the international community for refusing to deal with Hamas. "In the beginning, the PLO was classified as a terrorist organization. That changed after the accord with [Yitzhak] Rabin. Hamas is trying to develop its position," Abbas said. The national dialogue taking place now among the Palestinian groups shows that Hamas can change its position, he added.
He called the security fence an "inhumane, uncivilized wall, which is built on our land." He added that credit for the decrease in suicide attacks should not only go to Israeli security action, but also to the preventative actions carried out by the PA security services. "When we learn that somebody is going to carry out a suicide attack or launch a rocket, we go after them and attack them. Sometimes they are even killed by us, and we also seize guns and explosives," Abbas said, adding that Israeli media reports of thwarted suicide attacks by the IDF were "greatly exaggerated."
Abbas then referred to Olmert's realignment plan, saying, "we cannot accept a unilateral solution without being real partners in this process. We are calling for a withdrawal to the 1967 lines - nothing more and nothing less. The 1967 lines represent 22 percent, just 22% of the overall land of historic Palestine. That is all we want. When the Israelis tell us we will give you 40%, 60% or 70% of that, then we say that is unacceptable. We have accepted the 1967 borders. Together with a just, agreedupon solution to the refugee problem and east Jerusalem, we will, God willing, have a permanent peace treaty."
In response to another question posed by Wiesel relating to incitement and racism against Jews in PA school textbooks, he said that he would work to stamp out all of this "instigation" in the curriculum as well as in the media and literature. He also suggested that this was a problem found also in Israeli curricula and media.
In response to Abbas's comments, Peres said that if the Palestinians had stopped killing Israelis and firing rockets, Israel would have entered negotiations "a long time ago." Responding to a question from Wiesel as to how he feels when he sees the suffering of Israeli child victims of violence, Abbas said he sees both Jewish and Palestinian children as innocents.
"We have suffered long wars in this century. I have read Jewish history, I know about Jewish suffering and the slaughter at the hands of Hitler in the Holocaust. [In 1982, Abbas wrote a doctoral dissertation claiming secret ties between the Nazis and the Zionist movement. A.M.] I might be the victim of the victim. They have suffered and we have suffered," he said.
Abbas also said he prayed for the recovery of former prime minister Ariel Sharon.