The ex-Chief Negotiator of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation has rejected the Israeli Prime Minister’s demand for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to choose between Israel or Hamas. Dr. Saeb Erekat said that such a choice is rejected and it is “completely unacceptable” for Benjamin Netanyahu to call for it.
“There is no scope for comparison between Israel and the Palestinian movement of Hamas,” he asserted. “Israel is an occupying power and we hope to establish peace with it by ending the occupation; the state terrorism it practices; the policies of assassination and detention, and settlement construction on our occupied land.” He was adamant in stressing, “Whether we agree or differ with it, ultimately Hamas is a Palestinian national movement.” As such, he added, “it is imperative that we as Palestinians choose unanimously reconciliation and an end to the division.”
Further, Dr. Erekat emphasised that this is the Palestinians’ choice: “Reconciliation, end the occupation and protect the homeland.” By making such statements, said Dr. Erekat, “Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to gloss over his isolation and find justifications for an attack against the Gaza Strip.” He accused the Israeli Prime Minister of “not wanting Palestinian reconciliation under any circumstances whatsoever”. However, “The choice before us is not between Hamas and the Israelis, as Netanyahu puts it; the choice lies with Netanyahu, he must choose between settlements and peace.” Erekat urged the Israeli premier to choose between security and peace on the one hand and the settlements on the other. “It appears,” he said, “that Netanyahu has opted for the settlements.”
Netanyahu made his demand in a speech in the Knesset; peace with Israel or peace with the Hamas movement in Gaza. He accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of “talking about peace externally while internally continuing to incite against Israel”, a reference to the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel expressed its opposition to Abbas’s recent announcement that he is prepared to go to Gaza to agree the formation of a unified government with Hamas, consisting of independent personalities in the lead up to presidential and legislative elections. Netanyahu has criticised steps toward Palestinian reconciliation, describing them as “an enemy of Israel”.
In a related context, Dr Erekat confirmed the belief that “there is a significant possibility that Israel will launch another war against the Gaza Strip”. The senior Palestinian official was commenting on online Haaretz reports claiming that “a small war has broken out on the borders of Gaza and it is possible that it could escalate with an increase in the numbers of casualties”.
This should be taken seriously, said Dr. Erekat. “I am in contact with states around the world to try to prevent it.” He confirmed that President Abbas discussed the matter with President Dmitri Medvedev yesterday during his visit to Russia and asked for Russian intervention to bring an end to “the crimes being perpetrated against the rights of our people”.
Source: Ramallah – Sama