Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Abbas confers with Turks on Gaza

Posted by claudiacampli su 8 febbraio, 2009

IHT

By Sabrina Tavernise and Sebnem Arsu

Published: February 8, 2009

ISTANBUL: President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority traveled to Turkey over the weekend for talks with the prime minister and other officials on the way forward after the three-week war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

Turkey has been closely involved in talks on the conflict there, particularly with Hamas. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey was close to securing the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas in 2006.

But there was no mention of Shalit after talks on Saturday in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where Abbas and President Abdullah Gul of Turkey gave a televised news conference.

The Associated Press reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel was trying to lower expectations, saying that media reports in recent days of an impending release were “overblown and damaging.”

Abbas is part of Fatah, a rival faction to Hamas that was completely ousted from Gaza after Hamas won elections there in 2006. That set off an Israeli economic embargo of Gaza that is still in place.

He was on a tour of several foreign capitals this past week, including Cairo, Paris and Ankara, seeking support for a renewed presence for his faction in rebuilding Gaza.

Gaza suffered extensive damage in the war, but its reconstruction is mired in politics, as many countries, including the United States, say they will not give aid directly to Hamas, but instead to the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas said the formation of a Palestinian government that included all parties would change that. Hamas is doctrinally committed to Israel’s destruction.

“We want a government that would not constitute a pretext for Israel to continue the siege,” he said. “We are not calling Hamas to recognize Israel, but we expect this from the government to be newly formed.”

Israel says it will not consider opening the border crossings into Gaza – all but one of which are on its territory – until Shalit is released.

CNN-Turk, a Turkish television service, reported Friday that Turkey was continuing to negotiate for Shalit’s release, with officials traveling to Syria for talks on the matter. Officials confirmed that talks with Hamas were still on.

Gul called on Israel to drop the economic blockade, saying it was a barrier to reconciliation. Israel argues that Hamas uses imported materials to make bombs and rockets.

In Cairo, a new Hamas delegation arrived for peace talks brokered by Egypt. The group was led by one of the top Hamas leaders in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar.

Zahar said that Hamas would be flexible about who would take charge of reconstruction, The Associated Press reported. Hamas initially insisted that it should supervise the spending. But international donors are reluctant to hand huge sums to the group.

As the negotiations continued, the agency also reported that a rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Sunday, citing the Israeli military. A car was set ablaze and several others were damaged by shrapnel, but no injuries were reported.

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