Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned Israel's aggression against the Gaza Strip and called for a permanent and comprehensive truce that would guarantee security and stability for the people of the beleaguered territory. It should, he added, leave no room for Israeli justifications for killing Palestinians and destroying holy places in Gaza.
Abbas made his comments in a speech to the Ninth Round of the Fatah Revolutionary Council at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah, in the presence of members of Fatah's Central Committee. The President praised the steadfastness of the Palestinians, including those in Israeli jails, and the continuation of the national struggle for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.
With regards to the peace process, Abbas stressed that Israel should release all Palestinian prisoners detained before 1994 and allow equipment for the Palestinian security services to be delivered. This, he claimed, would allow a dialogue to begin with the Israeli government. He said that he rejects the fragmentation of the prisoners issue; they must all be released at once.
Speaking about the Palestinian leadership's meetings with the Arab monitoring committee, and its intention to approach the United Nations to grant observer status to a Palestinian state, Abbas stressed that the Arab countries had promised to provide financial cover for the national authority that will enable it to meet its financial responsibilities. He praised the stance of the wider international community, pointing out that the Palestinian viewpoint is similar to that of the vast majority of countries in the world concerning the two-state solution and the general framework of the peace process. He added that such stances should be turned into practical moves to achieve international objectives, ranging from the cessation of Israeli settlement activity, including settlements in Jerusalem, the acceptance of the principle of the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, and the release of prisoners.
Abbas hinted about the difficulties experienced by the peace process, given that the Israeli government refuses to deal with the peace portfolio as an integrated package, and its attempts to circumvent the major issues. This was a reference to the exploratory talks which stalled in January.
Turning to Palestinian reconciliation, Abbas reiterated his determination to move forward to end the division, stressing that the announcement of the formation of a government is connected to a clear declaration of a date for the next election. The election has to be related to the reconciliation, he said.
Regarding corruption, the president said, "We will fight corruption and open the files and won't allow anyone to blackmail us." He mentioned the Palestinian Authority's intention to prosecute people suspected of corruption and bring them to justice.
On security, he called upon the PA's agencies to continue their systematic campaign against excesses, highlighting the need for their officers to respect the rights and interests of the citizens while following the legal process and performing their duties.
In reference of his decree that no independent militias or armed groups will be tolerate, Abbas said that the only weapons allowed are those which belong to the PA and its agencies. There are, he stressed, systems, laws and procedures in place which guarantee the security of the citizens, and these are being implemented by the PA's security institutions.
The President called on the leaders and cadres of the Fatah movement to prepare for the local elections and appoint capable persons who are able to provide services to all citizens.