dahlan tough 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The political split between Gaza and the West Bank is an opportunity for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a former Palestinian national security adviser said Saturday.
Muhammad Dahlan, Fatah's strongman in Gaza until the takeover of the coastal strip by Hamas, told a security conference in Geneva he was confident that Palestinians across the political spectrum would support a negotiated settlement with Israel if asked in a referendum.
"What happened in Gaza should not been seen as an excuse to evade the peace process," Dahlan said, adding that the division between the two Palestinian territories represented "an opportunity" rather than a stumbling block on the path toward an agreement with Israel.
Dahlan, who resigned his post as national security adviser in July, citing health reasons, was widely blamed for the surprising collapse of the pro-Abbas forces in five days of fighting that ended with Hamas's takeover of Gaza in June.
"I am a person detested by Hamas, to my honor," he told a conference organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, adding that in his view Hamas had committed "a strategic and historic mistake" and was now opposed to the will of the Palestinian people.
Dahlan said he believed that if the Palestinians were asked to vote on a peace agreement with Israel "I am quite convinced that the solution I am hoping for will succeed by 70 percent."
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are expected to meet in Washington this fall to discuss peace proposals, including a plan put forward by Arab states.
Dahlan said a successful outcome of the talks would depend on the commitment shown by Israel and the United States.
"All the issues have been negotiated," he said, referring to previous talks, including the Camp David meeting in 2000 between former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
"The area of separation in the positions of both sides is a very small one and just requires some degree of bravery on both sides," Dahlan said, speaking through an interpreter.
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