PA, Hamas warn Israel against response to rocket fire

PA president says IDF operation will lead to collapse of int'l peace efforts; Erekat blames Israel for escalation; Hamas to file UN complaint.

Abbas in Greece 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Abbas in Greece 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday warned Israel against launching a strike on the Gaza Strip in response to the recent spat of rocket attacks.
“Any new Israeli aggression would put the entire peace process in real danger,” Abbas said during a meeting in his office with the EU representative to the Palestinian territories, Christian Berger of Austria.
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An IDF operation would “lead to the collapse of all international efforts aimed at salvaging peace,” Abbas said.
He urged the EU to play a larger role in the Middle East peace process, “especially because of the EU’s huge political and economic weight, which enables it to impact all parties to back the peace process.”
The PA president also complained about Israel’s policy of construction in settlements and east Jerusalem.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed “deep concern and fear” over the latest escalation along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Blaming Israel for the escalation, Erekat said it was dangerous and had “many repercussions which make us feel very worried.”
Erekat too warned Israel against launching a new “aggression” on the Gaza Strip, saying such a move would lead to “more complications.”
He cautioned that a military operation would “push the region toward more anarchy and bloodshed.”
Erekat said that Israel had a strategic interest in seeing divisions among the Palestinians continue.
He accused the government of waging a campaign to convince the world that the PA and Abbas were not partners for peace. The government was responsible for the failure of the peace process because of its refusal to stop the construction in the settlements, Erekat said.
He also demanded clarifications from the US about a recent WikiLeaks cable that talked about an agreement between Israel and the US administration according to which “natural growth” in the settlements would continue.
Hamas, meanwhile, said it would file a complaint with the UN and the Arab League against the “recent Zionist escalation.”
The Hamas government planned to contact many governments around the world to “explain the aggressive intentions of the occupation leaders,” said Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza City.
He said Israeli threats to launch an attack on the Gaza Strip coincided with Fatah’s continued crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
“Hamas is facing big challenges as the leaders of the occupation threaten to eliminate Hamas,” he complained.
“This is in addition to the campaign of arrests and repression waged by Fatah security forces against the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank.”
Nunu claimed that Fatah was holding more than 3,000 Hamas supporters in its prisons in the West Bank. The detainees included university lecturers, journalists and students, he said.
In a separate development, the European Commission decided on Wednesday to provide an initial package worth €11 million to the PA.
Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said in a statement: “This decision is a sign of the strong political and financial commitment of the European Union to the Palestinian Authority and to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s leadership in building a democratic and viable Palestinian state.
Palestinian statehood is critical for any peaceful, workable and lasting solution to the conflict.”
In announcing the package, Stefan Füle of the Czech Republic, the European commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy, said: “By today’s decision the Commission wants to give a signal to the Palestinian people that they can count on our continued support in 2011 as in the past.”