Archive for Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinians killed in ‘Nakba’ clashes

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15/05/2011 by 3071km

Date published: 15th May 2011

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Several killed and dozens wounded in Gaza, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun and West Bank, as Palestinians mark Nakba Day.

”]Several people have been killed and scores of others wounded in the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun in Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Palestinians mark the “Nakba”, or day of “catastrophe”.

The “Nakba” is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel, when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled following Israel’s declaration of statehood.

At least one Palestinian was killed and up to 80 others wounded in northern Gaza as Israeli troops opened fire on a march of at least 1,000 people heading towards the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

A group of Palestinians, including children, marching to mark the “Nakba” were shot by the Israeli army after crossing a Hamas checkpoint and entering what Israel calls a “buffer zone” – an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers generally shoot trespassers, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City on Sunday.

“We are just hearing that one person has been killed and about 80 people have been injured,” Johnston said.

“There are about 500-600 Palestinian youth gathered at the Erez border crossing point. They don’t usually march as far as the border. There has been intermittent gunfire from the Israeli side for the last couple of hours.

“Hamas has asked us to leave; they are trying to move people away from the Israeli border. They say seeing so many people at the border indicates a shift in politics in the area.”

Separately in south Tel Aviv, one Israeli man was killed and 17 were injured when a 22-year-old Arab Israeli driver drove his truck into a number of vehicles on one of the city’s main roads.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the driver, from an Arab village called Kfar Qasim in the West Bank, was arrested at the scene and is being questioned.

“Based on the destruction and the damage at the scene, we have reason to believe that it was carried out deliberately,” Rosenfeld said. But he said he did not believe the motive was directly linked to the anniversary of the Nakba.

West Bank clashes

One of the biggest Nakba demonstrations was held near Qalandiya refugee camp and checkpoint, the main secured entry point into the West Bank from Israel, where about 100 protesters marched, Al Jazeera’s  Nisreen El-Shamayleh reported from Ramallah.

Some injuries were reported from tear gas canisters fired at protesters there, El-Shamayleh said.

Small clashes were reported throughout various neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and cities in the West Bank, between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

Israeli police said 20 arrests were made in the East Jerusalem area of Issawiyah for throwing stones and petrol bombs at Israeli border police officers.

About 70 arrests have been made in East Jerusalem throughout the Nakba protests that began on Friday, two days ahead of the May 15 anniversary, police spokesman Rosenfeld said.

Tensions had risen a day earlier after a 17-year-old Palestinian boy died of a gunshot wound suffered amid clashes on Friday in Silwan, another East Jerusalem neighbourhood.

Police said the source of the gunfire was unclear and that police were investigating, while local sources told Al Jazeera that  the teen was shot in random firing of live ammunition by guards of Jewish settlers living in nearby Beit Yonatan.

‘Palestinians killed’

Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported that Israeli forces killed four Syrian citizens who had been taking part in an anti-Israeli rally on the Syrian side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border on Sunday.

Israeli army radio said earlier that dozens were wounded when Palestinian refugees from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border were shot for trying to break through the frontier fence. There was no comment on reports of the injured.

Meanwhile, Matthew Cassel, a journalist in the Lebanese town of Ras Maroun, on the southern border with Israel, told Al Jazeera that at least two Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon were killed in clashes there.

“Tens of thousands of refugees marched to the border fence to demand their right to return where they were met by Israeli soldiers,” he said.

“Many were killed. I don’t know how many but I saw with my own eyes a number of unconscious and injured, and at least two dead.

“Now the Lebanese army has moved in, people are running back up the mountain to get away from the army.”

A local medical source told the AFP news agency that Israeli gunfire killed six people and wounded 71 others in Ras Maroun.

‘End to Zionist project’

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned Sunday’s demonstrations.

“I regret that there are extremists among Israeli Arabs and in neighbouring countries who have turned the day on which the State of Israel was established, the day on which the Israeli democracy was established, into a day of incitement, violence and rage”, Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

“There is no place for this, for denying the existence of the State of Israel. No to extremism and no to violence. The opposite is true”, he said.

Earlier Sunday Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas-controlled Gaza, repeated the group’s call for the end of the state of Israel.

Addressing Muslim worshippers in Gaza City on Sunday, Haniyeh said Palestinians marked this year’s Nakba “with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”.

“To achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land, we should have one leadership,” Haniyeh said, praising the recent unity deal with its rival, Fatah, the political organisation which controls the West Bank under Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership.

Meanwhile, a 63 second-long siren rang midday in commemoration of the Nakba’s 63rd anniversary.

Over 760,000 Palestinians – estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants – fled or were driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed Israel’s creation.

Many took refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. Some continue to live in refugee camps.

About 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind in what is now Israeli territory and are known as Arab Israelis. They now total around 1.3 million, or some 20 percent of Israel’s population.

UN urges Israel to unfreeze Palestinian funds

Posted in Fatah, Hamas, Israel, Palestine, Peace process with tags , , , , , , on 06/05/2011 by 3071km

Date published: 6th May 2011

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Israel blocked transfer of $105m in customs duties and other levies it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel should not withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority following its unity deal with Hamas.

In telephone talks with Netanyahu on Friday, Ban reaffirmed UN support for Palestinian unity under the leadership of Abbas and called on the Israeli prime minister to give the deal a chance to lead to an historic peace accord.

“The Secretary-General … noted that Palestinian unity is a process which is just beginning now, and thus, it would be best to assess it as it moves forward,” the UN press office said in a statement summarising Ban’s telephone call with Netanyahu.

“He also urged Israel not to stop transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority,” it said.

Israel on Sunday blocked the transfer of $105 million in customs duties and other levies it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, following a deal to reunite the two rival wings of the Palestinian independence movement.

Palestinians see reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas as crucial for their drive for an independent state in territories Israel occupied in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Israel has condemned the unity pact as a “tremendous blow to peace.”

Ban told Netanyahu “he hoped Israel will make decisive moves towards a historic agreement with the Palestinians,” said Nesirky.

“The secretary general said it was urgent to overcome the impasse in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Continued drifting will not serve the interests of both parties.”

“(Ban) said he was convinced that realizing a negotiated two-state solution as soon as possible is in the best interest of both the Israeli and Palestinian people,” the statement added.

Palestinian factions in reconciliation bid

Posted in Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, International community, Israel, USA foreign policy, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 28/04/2011 by 3071km

Date published: 28/04/2011

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Fatah and Hamas agree to form interim government and fix general election date following talks in Cairo.

Fatah, the Palestinian political organisation, has reached an agreement with its rival Hamas on forming an interim government and fixing a date for a general election, Egyptian intelligence has said.

In February, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and a member of Fatah, called for presidential and legislative elections before September, in a move which was rejected by Hamas at the time.

Abbas signalled on Thursday that peace talks with Israel would still be possible during the term of a new interim government formed as part of a unity deal with Hamas.

Abbas said the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which he heads and to which Hamas does not belong, would still be responsible for “handling politics, negotiations”.

He was speaking for the first time since the unity deal was unveiled in Cairo on Wednesday.

The deal, which took many officials by surprise, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings.

“The consultations resulted in full understandings over all points of discussions, including setting up an interim agreement with specific tasks and to set a date for election,” Egyptian intelligence said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The two sides signed initial letters on an agreement. All points of differences have been overcome,” Taher Al-Nono, a Hamas government spokesman in Gaza, told the Reuters news agency.

He said that Cairo would shortly invite both sides to a signing ceremony.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Gaza, Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, said: “I think we are optimistic because … there is [an] official agreement between Hamas and Fatah, and I think we now have [an] impressive jump to the Palestinian unity.

“Maybe it does not come as a shock because I think it came as a fruit of long talks and discussion.

“I think that today we became very close to this agreement, we have finished some points. It is like [an] outline draft and I think it will be a good beginning.

“Maybe after that we will start on how to implement this agreement to be translated and practised on the ground.”

‘Geopolitical situation’

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said: “It is important news … the geopolitical situation wasn’t exactly helpful [to reconciliation] and then we went through six months of upheavals, certainly sweeping through Egypt.

“At the end, you could say that President Abbas has lost his patron in Egypt, which is President Mubarak, and Hamas is more on less facing almost similar trouble now, with Bashar al-Assad [Syria’s president] facing his own trouble in Damascus.

“So with the US keeping a distance and Israel not delivering the goods on the peace process and the settlements, it was time for Palestinians to come together and agree on what they basically agreed on almost a year and a half ago.”

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said on Wednesday that Abbas could not hope to forge a peace deal with Israel if he pursued a reconciliation accord with Hamas.

“The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both,” he said.

In his televised statement, Netanyahu said Israel could not accept Hamas as a negotiating partner because it “aspires to destroy Israel, it says so publicly, it fires rockets on our cities, it fires anti-tank rockets on our children.”

He said that the surprise announcement of a reconciliation deal “exposes the Palestinian Authority’s weakness”.

And on Thursday, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister said the deal marks the “crossing of a red line”.

Lieberman warned that the accord could lead to the militant group’s takeover of the Fatah-run West Bank.

But top Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdaineh said the reconciliation did not concern Israel.

“The agreement between Fatah and Hamas movements is an internal affair and has nothing to do with Israel. Netanyahu must choose between a just peace with the united Palestinian people … and settlements,” Abu Rdaineh said.

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reported from Ramallah that “a lot of people would say that this was really an empty kind of ultimatum – what peace process, or what peace deal, is prime minister Netanyahu actually talking about?

“The peace process very much took a hit in the last few months. There has been no peace process taking place between the Palestinian Authority and Israel because of Israel’s insistence on building on land that is being negotiated on.

“So I think many months back, the PA and Fatah decided to take their own route, away from this peace process, away from US mediation and try to really go it alone.”

The US is reviewing further reports on details of the reconciliation, and while it supports Palestinian reconciliation, Hamas remains “a terrorist organisation which targets civilians”, Tommy Vietor, US National Security Council spokesman, said.

“To play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must accept the Quartet principles and renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

Hamas does not recognise Israel as a state.

‘Bitter split’

Fatah holds power in the occupied West Bank while Hamas, which won the last parliamentary election in 2006, routed Abbas’ forces in 2007 to seize control of the Gaza Strip.

Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Cairo, said: “This effectively will be ending a bitter split that Palestinians have been witnessing since 2007.

Rageh said the deal was expected to be signed next week and would be attended by Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who is based in Damascus.

Nicole Johnston, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Gaza, said: “One of the main civil society groups here is calling on all Palestinian factions to head down to the main square in Gaza City, the square of the unknown soldier, to begin the celebrations.

“It seems certainly in Gaza that there’s a need for some good news. It’s been a pretty rough month here in a lot of respects, an escalation of violence with Israel, the kidnapping and murder of a foreigner.

“So really, this kind of news … is a call for celebration.”

Wednesday’s accord was first reported by Egypt’s intelligence service, which brokered the talks.

In a statement carried by Egyptian state news agency MENA, the intelligence service said the deal was agreed by a Hamas delegation led by Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the group’s politburo, and Fatah central committee member Azzam al-Ahmad.

Al-Ahmad and Abu Marzouk said the agreement covered all points of contention, including forming a transitional government, security arrangements and the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organisation to allow Hamas to join it.

Speaking on Egyptian state television, al-Ahmad said a general election would take place within a year.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of Hamas, said all prisoners with a non-criminal background would be released.

Reaction out of Gaza to yet another resolution

Posted in Fatah, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, International community, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Peace process, Pictures, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , on 17/10/2009 by 3071km

Written by Ayman Mohyeldin

Date published: 16th October 2009

Source: The Middle East Blog

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The Goldstone vote at the UN Human Rights Council is being described as a victory for the Palestinian people. But for Palestinians, UN resolutions – at any level – have become a bittersweet experience that represent the duality of both international impotence and bias.

It’s being described as a victory for the Palestinian people and the political factions in Gaza were quick to embrace the Goldstone vote at the UN Human Rights Council.

The deposed government and Hamas both welcomed the outcome and immediately called for the international community to begin taking up the recommendations of the report by bringing charges against alleged Israeli war criminals responsible for the war on Gaza.

Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk said the Islamic movement would set up a committee to look into any “indications” of wrong doing in the Goldstone report against Hamas.

Reacting to the report and what possible implications it means for Hamas, Dr. Mahmoud Zahar rejected the notion that Hamas had committed any war crimes during the war. He also said Hamas would help in collecting and presenting evidence that could help lead to criminal cases against Israeli officials.

Litigation

Many here want to see prominent international jurists, international organizations and human rights group pursue cases against Israeli political and military leaders on behalf of Palestinian victims. In recent years, European courts have allowed for Palestinian victims represented by European lawyers and organizations to introduce cases in individual countries against Israeli officials, so far without much success. But Israeli officials are increasingly worried about traveling to European countries that have pending cases working their way through the legal system out of fear of being arrested.

That may be wishful for thinking for some on the streets of Gaza, who for the time being don’t draw a direct correlation between Friday’s vote in Geneva and the likely execution of justice for the victims and their families.

For Palestinians, UN resolutions – at any level – have become a bittersweet experience that represent the duality of both international impotence and bias. When the international community endorses a resolution that favors Palestinians, it usually lacks any traction and suffers from the looming threat of a US veto, which is always dangling overhead, meaning it is unlikely to pass. US-backed resolutions are seen as either watered-down or pro-Israeli.

When the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas caved in to international pressure and supported the deferral of the vote on the Goldstone report at the previous UNHCR session, he came under intense domestic criticism.

Hamas launched scathing attacks calling him a “traitor” and said he was no longer fit to represent the Palestinian people. Many in Gaza shared those sentiments. Palestinian factions, civil society and organizations condemned the decision. Palestinians were outraged that their leader would take an action widely seen as directly contravening the interests of his own people.

But there is a silver lining in all of this – in some ways, this was a victory for the Palestinian people. A spokesperson for the PFLP-GC (one of the dozens of Palestinian factions) summed up the vote by calling it a victory and an example of collective Palestinian action and unity.

Indeed thats what many will now uphold as the Goldstone example. When Palestinian leaders, under pressure and facing public accountability from civil society and ordinary people act in the interest of their people, results can be achieved.

Now, if Hamas and Fatah can just sign a national reconciliation pact and agree on national political unity, what a week it would be for the Palestinians!

UN body debates Gaza war report

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, International community, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Peace process, Pictures, USA foreign policy, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , , , on 15/10/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 15th October 2009

Source: BBC News

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Navi Pillay in Geneva, 15 Oct

Pillay says punishing war criminals is vital for building peace

Members of the UN Human Rights Council are debating whether to endorse a report into the Israeli offensive in Gaza last winter.

The report by veteran South African judge Richard Goldstone accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes.

Israel rejects the Goldstone report as biased. Its UN envoy says endorsing it would be a setback for peace hopes.

The UN human rights chief has backed the report and called on both sides to investigate the alleged crimes.

“A culture of impunity continues to prevail in the occupied territories and in Israel,” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at the opening of the special meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

She called for “impartial, independent, prompt and effective investigations into reported violations of human rights and humanitarian law.”

‘Setback for peace’

Israel has already come under pressure from its allies – including the US, UK and France – to investigate the UN allegations.

But Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aharon Leshno Yaar, said the resolution threatened to “set back hopes for peace”.

The text of the draft resolution says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should monitor Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the report.

It also contains a condemnation of Israel’s policies in East Jerusalem, another issue likely to divide the Council.

A vote is expected on Friday.

At its first debate two weeks ago, the Council decided to delay its response for six months.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at first agreed to this under pressure from the US aimed at getting the Middle East peace process back on track.

But after much public criticism at home, he demanded that the debate be reopened.

Report findings

The Goldstone report accuses Israel of using disproportionate force and deliberately harming civilians during the 22-day conflict which began on 27 December 2008.

Palestinian Hamas militants are accused of indiscriminate rocket fire at Israeli civilians.

The report urges the Security Council to refer allegations to the International Criminal Court if either side fails to investigate suspects within six months.

Israel has rejected the evidence, saying it has already investigated its troops’ conduct, clearing most of the subjects of wrongdoing. Hamas has also denied committing war crimes.

Israeli military action destroyed thousands of homes, hundreds of factories and 80 official buildings in Gaza.

Palestinians and human rights groups say more than 1,400 people were killed in the violence between 27 December 2008 and 16 January 2009, more than half of them civilians.

Israel puts the number of deaths at 1,166 – fewer than 300 of them civilians. Three Israeli civilians and 10 Israeli soldiers were also killed.

Abbas seen as a traitor: “not backing the UN war report is a ‘scandal'”

Posted in Fatah, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, International community, Palestine, Peace process, Pictures, USA foreign policy, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , on 12/10/2009 by 3071km

Date published: Monday 12th October 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Palestinian unity hopes dim

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A reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, the rival Palestinian parties, has been delayed, following a bitter dispute over the Palestinian decision not to back a UN report on alleged Israeli war crimes.

The deal was to be signed on October 25, clearing the way for Hamas and Fatah to co-operate in rebuilding war-damaged Gaza by preparing for Palestinian elections in the first half of 2010.

Speaking of his disappointment to Al Jazeera on Monday, Mustafa Barghouthi – an independent member of the Palestinian parliament – said he believed Fatah and Hamas had turned a UN war-crimes report into a party-political issue, rather than into an honest attempt to seek justice.

The report, drawn up by a team of experts led by Richard Goldstone, a former South African judge, accuses Israel of using disproportionate force and failing to protect civilians during its bombardment of Gaza at the end of 2008.

Palestinian party politics

Barghouti said: “What is most unfortunate is that the Goldstone report should have been a unifying issue for all Palestinians … to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes.

“What we see is that both Fatah and Hamas are making this into a party-political issue. This should stop.”

The two sides have been divided since Hamas, which commanded a majority in parliament, seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.Following the takeover, there have been rival Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank.

With mediation from Egypt, the parties have been trying to broker a deal to reconcile and establish a power-sharing agreement.

But Hamas said on its website on Sunday that it was postponing the agreement because of a much-criticised decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by President Mahmoud Abbas, to delay action on the Goldstone report.

‘Crime and scandal’

Seven Palestinian groups joined Hamas leaders based in Damascus, Syria, on Sunday in issuing a statement of support for the postponement of the reconciliation deal.

They called Abbas’s decision to freeze action on the UN report a “crime and scandal”.

The groups emphasised the importance of reconciliation but said Abbas’s actions should not go unpunished.

In a televised speech from the conference in Damascus, Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader, spelled out his party’s position.”When Goldstone investigated the criminal aggression by Israel against Gaza, this was an opportunity to indict Israel,” he said.

“But this group of Palestinian leaders [Fatah leadership] withdrew the report. This is the Goldstone scandal. A courageous leadership is a leadership that is frank with its people.

“Those who are accumulating political mistakes are today continuing their lies. This is not a leadership that deserves to be entrusted with the leadership of the Palestinians.

The Goldstone report recommended that the UN Security Council require both sides to carry out credible investigations into alleged abuses during the conflict – in which 13 Israelis and almost 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilian women and children, were killed.

Israel has rejected the report’s allegations while the US has called it deeply flawed.

But many Palestinians, and not just Hamas members, were outraged after Abbas withdrew Palestinian support for having the UN Human Rights Council forward the report to the 192-nation General Assembly for possible action.

In reaction, Abbas gave his own speech on Sunday in Ramallah – saying Hamas had its own reasons for not wanting to sign a reconciliation agreement.”This campaign by Hamas is aimed at serving their interests, which is to postpone the signing of the reconciliation agreement,” he said.

“They want to concentrate their rule and their regime in Gaza. They want to ensure the continuity of division in Gaza, that aims at weakening the Palestinian Authority.”

Unity ‘efforts continuing’

Some Palestinian parliamentarians are still hopeful that a reconciliation agreement might be reached by October 25.

Barghouti, the Palestinian politician, said despite the public media attacks, unity efforts are continuing.

“The Egyptians have provided a final copy of the agreement for reconciliation. And hopefully, by the 20th of this month, all parties will sign this agreement in preparation for a ceremony that would declare unity,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Delaying the Goldstone report vote would never have happened if we had had a united Palestinian leadership.

“Given that Israel has arrested large numbers of parliamentary members, the parliament is paralysed and unable to function – so this agreement needs to happen.”

But other Palestinians say the chances of national unity are slim.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Monday, Azzam Tamimi, author of Hamas: Unwritten Chapters, said saving the reconciliation process while Abbas remains president is almost impossible.

“The overwhelming opinion in the Palestinian street now is that Abbas is a complete traitor. There is no coming back from that,” he said.

“And what makes this worse is the reality that, despite much hope for change with a new US government under President Barack Obama, it seems clear now that it was American pressure that forced Abbas not to back the UN war report.”

Tamimi said Washington’s policy towards the whole Palestine issue “has not changed, despite a new set of faces in the White House”.

Hamas-Fatah deal ‘to be delayed’

Posted in Fatah, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, International community, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Pictures, War crimes with tags , , , , , , on 12/10/2009 by 3071km

Date published: Sunday 11th October 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Egypt’s foreign minister has said that a unity deal between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah could be delayed until November.

Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Sunday that a senior Hamas delegation had asked Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief, for postponement of the deal scheduled to be signed on October 25.

The request followed heightened tensions between Hamas and Fatah over a UN-sponsored report on war crimes committed during Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip last winter.

The report authored by Richard Goldstone heavily criticised Isreal for “terrorising and targeting” civilians between last December and January.

Hamas also came in for criticism in the 575-page report.

About 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the conflict.

Hamas, the group which runs the Gaza Strip, has castigated Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah and the president of the Palestinian Authority which rules the occupied West Bank, over the delay in endorsing Goldstone’s report at the UN Human Rights Council.

Endorsement of the report could have facilitated the eventual prosecution of Israeli officials responsible for the atrocities.

Hamas said that the decision “betrayed” the Palestinian victims of the offensive.

The long-delayed Palestinian deal would allow for co-operation in reconstruction of the Gaza Strip that was heavily bombarded in the offensive and prepare for elections in the first six months of 2010.

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have been high since the former won parliamentary polls in January 2006 and then expelled pro-Fatah forces from Gaza in June 2007.