Radical groups demand Abbas resign

PA president urges Israel to seize ‘historic opportunity.’

Abbas 311 (photo credit: AP)
Abbas 311
(photo credit: AP)
A day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel to take advantage of “this historic opportunity” to achieve peace via the imminent direct negotiations, Hamas and 10 other radical Palestinian groups on Thursday demanded that he resign because of his “failure to resist heavy American and Israeli pressure” to abandon his preconditions for the talks.
The resignation call was issued following a meeting of the groups’ heads in Damascus.
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Izzat Risheq, a Hamas representative who attended the meeting, said participants agreed that Abbas “was no longer trustworthy to look after the interests of the Palestinian people and should therefore quit all his positions.”
Speaking during a meal he held to mark the breaking of Wednesday’s Ramadan fast, Abbas declared that the Palestinians were entering the direct talks on September 2 of their own volition and with the hope of achieving peace with their neighbors.
“We are going to Washington to launch direct talks under the sponsorship of the US and the presence of a representative of the Quartet of our own volition and national sense because we want peace,” Abbas told his guests over the meal in his Mukata presidential compound in Ramallah.
“If there’s a 1 percent chance to achieve peace, we will go for it out of conviction, because we want to achieve peace with our neighbors. Therefore we are going to Washington full of hope that we could reach a just and comprehensive peace,” he said.
Referring to the PA’s previous conditions for participating in direct talks with Israel, Abbas explained: “As Palestinians, we’re not in a position that allows us to impose preconditions. No party should be allowed to set preconditions before entering negotiations.”
He added that the issue of settlement construction was mentioned in all bilateral agreements between the Israelis and Palestinians and in most international accords.
“Since the Oslo Accords, we agreed that neither party would take measures that would prejudice the outcome of the final-status negotiations,” Abbas said.
“This means that Israel would refrain from changing the reality on the ground, while the Palestinians would refrain from unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state.”
He said that the issue of settlements was mentioned in 2002’s road map for peace in the Middle East and in at least 15 UN resolutions, as well as in US President Barack Obama’s address to the Arab and Islamic countries in Cairo shortly after he entered the White House last year.