Hamas welcomes Abbas call for dialogue


Gaza/Ramallah : The Hamas movement welcomed Wednesday the initiative by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for holding a comprehensive dialogue to end their dispute.

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Top Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar told reporters that Hamas movement welcomed Abbas’ call for holding a comprehensive dialogue, “but without any preconditions”.

Taher al-Noono, spokesman of the deposed Hamas government in Gaza, told reporters “the government welcomes the initiative and accepts it.

“What is needed next is to have Arab nurture for a comprehensive dialogue and second is to stop all the media campaigns that deepen disputes between the two sides.”

Abbas renewed his call Wednesday for internal national dialogue to reunite the Palestinian people, a year after the Islamist Hamas military takeover of the Gaza Strip.

The call included remarks seen as the first time Abbas had hinted at possible direct talks with Hamas even before the Islamist group relinquishes its hold on the Gaza Strip – a condition he has always made for resuming dialogue.

Speaking to journalists at his Ramallah headquarters in a quickly called press conference, Abbas announced he would also call for presidential and legislative elections, urging Hamas to accept this initiative. He did not give a date.

“I call for comprehensive national dialogue to implement the Yemeni initiative in all its elements,” Abbas said. “In order to make the dialogue successful, I will move on the Arab and international levels to secure support for this step.”

Yemen presented an initiative earlier this year to end the conflict between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority that arose when Hamas used force to oust the PA from the Gaza Strip, leaving it in control only of the West Bank.

Fatah, the main Hamas rival, accepted the Yemeni initiative and signed an agreement with Hamas to that regard in the presence of the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. However, the two sides disagreed later over the interpretation of the agreement.

While Fatah said the agreement means immediate implementation, starting with the first article that calls on Hamas to go back on its military takeover and return power in Gaza to the PA, Hamas said the agreement called for initiating dialogue to implement the agreement.

Abbas said: “We will work to provide every possibility to make this dialogue successful.” He said this call for renewed dialogue came after intensive internal discussion among the various Palestinian political factions.

The Palestinian president opened his statement marking the 41st anniversary for the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He stressed “passage of time and decades for the occupation of our land does not force us to give up a single inch of this land.”

He said: “If Israel wants security and peace, it has to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 borders.” He said Israeli settlement activities are “null and void” and “there cannot be peace as a result of these activities.”

He defended the negotiations his administration is conducting with Israel to reach a final peace settlement and said, “Our meetings and negotiations are an occasion for us to reaffirm our determination to achieve a comprehensive and just peace.”

Abbas described the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip as a “war crime,” calling on the Arab and international communities to intervene to end the blockade.