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Abbas says Egypt is not biased toward Hamas

February 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has said that regarding Palestinian internal reconciliation, he “absolutely does not feel that the Egyptian position is closer to Hamas”. “If I felt so, I would not be here in Cairo,” he told Egyptian journalists.

In a meeting with the chief editors of Egyptian newspapers, Abbas said: “No one can deny that Hamas is a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, but what I heard from President Mohammed Morsi was that Egypt is still keen on achieving Palestinian reconciliation.”

Abbas said that Fatah and Hamas delegations met in Cairo on Tuesday and agreed to form a government within three months. “We are determined to go ahead with reconciliation,” he said. “There is no connection between reconciliation and negotiations with the Israelis.”

He said that tangible steps are yet to be taken regarding the Qatari initiative to hold a reduced meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, to include Hamas and aimed at discussing the reconciliation.

Regarding the peace process, Abbas said: “We asked the Americans to tell the Israelis to halt all settlement activities on all occupied Palestinian lands and Jerusalem if they are serious in resuming the peace process.”

“As a precondition to resuming negotiations, we suggested that Netanyahu clearly announces his vision regarding the two-state solution along the 1967 borders and land swap.

“We told the UN that we wanted to claim our rights regarding the natural gas in the Gaza Sea and the oil in the West Bank. Israel is digging at a 100-metre distance from the West Bank borders. We said we wanted to dig ourselves and get our rights with regard to that oil. We also said that we wanted to claim our rights to the potash in the Dead Sea.”

On land swap, Abbas said that they proposed exchanging lands in the occupied Palestinian territories with lands of the same area and value in occupied Palestine. He said that Israeli proposed one per cent for nine per cent, but that was refused.

Regarding the Arab initiative, the Palestinian president said: “None of the Arab states can change any article in the initiative without an Arab League convention.” He described the initiative as the best proposal to solve the Palestinian issue yet over the past 50 years.

He said that it suggests that Israel withdraw from all occupied Palestinian territories and that Arab and Islamic states would have normal relation with it in return.

Answering a question about whether a Palestinian state is viable without Jerusalem as its capital, Abbas said: “No.”

Commenting on the proposed visit of Turkish Prime Ministry Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Gaza Strip, Abbas said he had met with Erdogn and told him that his visit to the Strip reinforces Palestinian division. “That visit should be postponed until after the achievement of the reconciliation,” he said.

He also criticised the visit of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi to Gaza asserting that any official visit to the Gaza Strip prior to the achievement of reconciliation would only reinforce internal division.