Abbas calls on Hamas to release Gilad Schalit

Hamas-Fatah tensions intensify in wake of Wikileaks revelation that Israel consulted with Fatah and Egypt on plan for Operation Cast Lead.

abbas pointing finger 311 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
abbas pointing finger 311 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday called on Hamas to release IDF soldier Gilad Schalit and expressed support for Germany’s efforts to forge a prisoner swap agreement between Israel and the Islamist movement.
Abbas admitted, however, that he has no influence over Hamas.
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“From the beginning, we have called for the return of this prisoner [Schalit] to his family,” Abbas told reporters in Ramallah, after meeting with German President Christian Wulff.
“We are also demanding the release of all 8,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, but we don’t link these two issues.
Unfortunately, we don’t have influence over Hamas so that we could talk to them about this case.”
Abbas said he appreciated and supported Germany’s mediation efforts.
“I talked with the [German] president about his country’s efforts to release him,” he added. “The Palestinian people appreciate this German position.”
Abbas said he discussed with Wulff the latest developments surrounding the peace process and reiterated his opposition to establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders.
“We are demanding a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and this is recognized internationally,” Abbas stressed. “We have no objections to implementing the solution within one or two years, but we don’t want a temporary state that would eventually become a state with permanent borders.”
He vowed to pursue efforts to achieve a peaceful solution based on two states that would live alongside each other in security and stability.
“We have no other choices but the option of peace and we hope US efforts [to resume the peace talks] succeed,” he said.
“Even if these efforts don’t succeed, we will go to other options in the framework of peace and international legitimacy to establish an independent Palestinian state.”
Abbas said that he was willing to talk about a peace agreement with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the same way he did with former prime ministers.
“If Netanyahu says that we don’t want peace, he should try us,” Abbas said. “We continue to say that we are prepared for peace on the basis of international legitimacy to establish an independent and viable Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
The Arab League foreign ministers will meet to discuss the future of the peace process as soon as the Palestinians receive a response from the Americans about their demand that Israel freeze construction in the settlements, as wellas in east Jerusalem, Abbas said.
Germany has promised to finance the establishment of five police stations in the West Bank, he said.
Meanwhile, the latest WikiLeaks revelations have intensified tensions between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas.
The rival parties exchanged allegations in light of a report that claimed that Israel had consulted with Fatah and Egypt about its plan to launch Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
The information on the December 2008/January 2009 offensive was revealed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in a June 2009 telegram.
The document quoted then-deputy US ambassador Luis Moreno as saying that Barak had “explained that the GOI [government of Israel] had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas.”