Hamas rejects Barghouti peace plan

Proposed a Palestinian state with '67 borders and Jerusalem as its capital.

barghouti prison 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
barghouti prison 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A senior Hamas official rejected outright on Thursday a peace initiative proposed by former Fatah-Tanzim head Marwan Barghouti, in which he accepted the 1967 lines as borders of a future Palestinian state. A document composed by Barghouti from inside the Israeli prison where he is incarcerated, outlined the terms of an agreement to quell the tensions between Fatah and Hamas, and was approved by Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Together with heads of other Palestinian organizations inside the jail, Barghouti called on Hamas and Fatah to unify into one Palestinian movement, Israel Radio reported. The imprisoned leaders of the two movements, together with representatives of the Islamic Jihad, PFLP and the DFLP signed the document. PA and Fatah leaders welcomed the prisoners' initiative. The appeal came as Palestinian Authority officials announced that the fuel crisis in the West Bank had been resolved. Mujahed Salameh, head of the PA's Petroleum Authority, announced that the fuel supply would be resumed on Friday following an agreement with the Israeli supplier, Dor Energy. Several gas stations had been forced to close on Wednesday and supplies of cooking gas were reported to be running low. The prisoners' call was made in a letter they sent to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The document was signed by Fatah's Marwan Barghouti, Hamas's Abdel Khaleq al-Natsheh, Islamic Jihad's Bassam al-Sa'di, the Democratic Front's Mustafa Badarneh and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's Abdel Rahim Malouh. Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman described the letter as good and serious and called on all Palestinian factions to respond positively. Described by its authors as a national unity initiative, the letter urged representatives of all the Palestinian factions to join a national unity government and to talk in one voice. "Since we are still passing through the phase of liberation, there is a need for a new struggle strategy," the letter said. It stated clearly that the goal was to establish an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, "on all the lands occupied in 1967" and to safeguard the right of return for all refugees. It also urged Hamas and Islamic Jihad to recognize the PLO as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people - a demand that had already been rejected by leaders of the two groups in the Gaza Strip and Syria. The letter emphasized the Palestinians' right to pursue their attacks on Israelis, but only in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It called for the formation of a new body called the Palestinian Resistance Front to coordinate attacks. "The Palestinian people have the right to resist and to adhere to the option of resistance by all methods," it said. "The resistance should be focused in the areas that were occupied in 1967, along with political negotiations." The prisoners called on Abbas and Haniyeh to respect each other's powers and to work together in harmony on the basis of the PA constitution. Moreover, they stressed the importance of reforming government institutions, especially the judiciary system. The prisoners also expressed their support for allowing the PLO and Abbas to conduct negotiations with Israel on the condition that any agreement be endorsed through a referendum. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip expressed doubt that their representatives in Israeli jails had signed the letter, pointing out that the movement was unaware of the intention to launch the new initiative. "The letter was published in the Palestinian media before we had a chance to study it," said one official. "As such, we are not sure yet whether this is an authentic document. In any case, the talk about recognizing Israel contravenes Hamas's position." Meanwhile, fresh clashes erupted between Hamas and Fatah militiamen in the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, despite an earlier agreement between the two parties to end the violence. Sources in Gaza City said brothers Bassem and Ra'fat al-Madhoun from the armed wing of Fatah were shot and seriously wounded in a Hamas ambush. The sources said the assassins were apparently targeting a third brother, Sameeh, who is one of the area leaders of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. Three Hamas gunmen were later wounded during a battle that erupted with Fatah militiamen in the same area. The fighting began when Fatah gunmen thwarted an attempt to plant bombs outside the homes of security officers belonging to the Preventative Security Service.