Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Palestinian Rivals to Try Once More for an Accord

Posted by claudiacampli su 28 aprile, 2009

IHT

By TAGHREED EL-KHODARY and ISABEL KERSHNER

Published: April 28, 2009

CAIRO — The rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas ended a fourth round of reconciliation talks here on Tuesday without success, but agreed to convene one more time to try to reach an accord.

Egypt, which has been mediating the talks, set May 15 as the new deadline for reaching an agreement, according to Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader based in Damascus who participated in the meetings.

“We cannot just talk for the sake of talking,” said Mr. Abu Marzouk, the deputy political chief of Hamas, in an interview here. “To continue without results is a disaster on the national level.”

The failure to heal the internal Palestinian schism, now almost two years old, leaves the Islamic group Hamas in control of Gaza and the powers of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, confined to the West Bank.

The need for a unified government gained urgency after Israel’s 22-day military offensive in Gaza that ended Jan. 18. The international community has refused to channel funds for reconstruction in Gaza through Hamas, which Israel, the United States and the European Union classify as a terrorist organization.

But so far, the sides have failed to reach agreement on crucial issues like terms for a unity government, a formula for holding new Palestinian legislative and presidential elections, and security arrangements.

Fatah insists that any unity government formed will be acceptable to the international community and satisfy the conditions of the so-called quartet of Middle East peace makers — the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia. That means recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing all violence and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

Hamas has so far refused to accept the conditions. “How can I recognize Israel when Israel does not recognize Hamas?” asked Mr. Abu Marzouk, the senior Hamas leader.

He added that Fatah recognized Israel long ago and had still not achieved a peace deal, and that Israel still did not have fixed borders that could be recognized. He described the placing of conditions as “putting the cart in front of the horse” and “political blackmail by Israel.”

Hamas also accused Fatah of playing for time in Cairo while President Obama and Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, formulate their positions.

But Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official who participated in the talks, said ending the Palestinian division was also a priority for Fatah, and a prerequisite for a peace deal with Israel.

“The next round will determine everything,” Mr. Ahmed said. “Egypt will not allow a failure.”

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

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