Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Palestinian Rivals Talk Peace in Egypt

Posted by gaetanoditommaso su 26 febbraio, 2009

CAIRO — The rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah began long-awaited reconciliation talks here under Egyptian auspices on Thursday, adding another twist to an already complex political situation as President Obama’s Middle East envoy arrived in Israel to meet Israeli and Palestinian officials.

The envoy, George J. Mitchell, is on his second trip to the region in a month, part of “ongoing efforts” to “actively and aggressively” advance Israeli-Palestinian peace, according to American officials.

The Palestinian talks in Cairo were the first since Hamas, the Islamic militant group, took control of Gaza in June 2007, routing the Palestinian Authority forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas of the mainstream, secularist Fatah. The Hamas takeover came after a brief but brutal factional war in Gaza in which scores of Palestinians were killed.

Israeli politics were also in flux after elections earlier this month, leaving the future of the peace process unclear.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister-designate and the leader of the conservative Likud Party, has been holding coalition talks with right-wing and religious parties as the prospect of a more centrist coalition grew dimmer.

If a narrow, rightist government takes shape, it would be unlikely to subscribe to the same peace-making principles as the Obama administration and the departing Israeli government, a process based on a two-state solution to the conflict.

At a news conference earlier Thursday in the Turkish capital of Ankara, Mr. Mitchell said that Turkey has a “unique role to play” in Middle East peace efforts. The United States “appreciates Turkey’s continuing commitment to a comprehensive peace and to a two-state solution,” he said after talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In Israel, Mr. Mitchell was scheduled to meet with leaders of the outgoing government and with Mr. Netanyahu. He planned to meet with leaders of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority on Friday at their headquarters in Ramallah, in the West Bank.

In Cairo, 13 Palestinian groups are attending the reconciliation talks mediated by the Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman. The main purpose is to try to find some means of power-sharing between Fatah and Hamas.

Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 and formed a unity government that included representatives of Fatah. But Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union, and that government was boycotted by Israel and the West. Mr. Abbas dissolved it after the Gaza takeover by Hamas in 2007, which he described as a coup.

Mr. Abbas’s authority has since been limited to Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank. For more than a year, Israel has engaged in peace negotiations with Mr. Abbas aimed at laying the foundations of a Palestinian state.

At the same time, Israel imposed a strict economic embargo on Hamas-run Gaza and carried out a 22-day military offensive against the group that ended last month.

After preliminary talks on Wednesday, the Palestinian parties agreed to set up committees to deal with the main issues, including a unity government, elections, security arrangements and reform of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian umbrella group that so far has not included Hamas.

Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official, said not all the issues would have to be resolved simultaneously, indicating a new degree of flexibility.

The priority seemed to be the formation of a unity government that would facilitate reconstruction efforts in Gaza. National unity would enable Egypt and Israel to open the crossings on their borders with Gaza with a Palestinian Authority security presence on the Gaza side, as the Israelis and Egyptians demand.

Still, it remained unclear what kind of unity government might emerge, and what kind of international acceptance it would gain.

“There is an agreement on a government of national unity,” a senior Fatah official, Azzam al-Ahmed, told a news conference on Wednesday night. “The nature of this cabinet is up to the committee that will be formed.”

President Abbas has been pressing in recent months for a government made up of independent technocrats, but Hamas insists on playing a role.

Israel and the so-called quartet of Middle East peace makers — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — have made recognition of Hamas conditional on the Islamic group’s renouncing violence, recognizing Israel’s right to exist and accepting previous agreements signed by the Israelis and Palestinians.

While the bitter divisions between Fatah and Hamas remain profound, representatives of the parties in Cairo said there seemed to be a political will to resolve them on both sides. “The people have paid such a heavy price for this division,” Mr. Ahmed said.

Egypt is also trying to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, as well as the release of an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas since 2006.

Early Thursday, a rocket launched by Palestinian militants in Gaza hit the yard of a house in the Israeli border town of Sderot. An adult and a child were treated for shock.

Taghreed El-Khodary reported from Cairo, and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem.




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