Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Fatah Party Reaches out to Hamas Terror Group

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - This week, Jamal Muheisin, a member of the Fatah’s Central Committee, told Ma’an, the Palestinian news agency, that the Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority, has signed an Egyptian-backed deal for reconciliation with Hamas. Hamas is defined by Israel, the U.S., the European Union, Canada, Russia and Australia as an illegal terrorist organization.

Hamas spokespeople said the party’s senior leadership has also approved the document, although they have not yet declared this publicly.

Other Palestinian factions are expected to respond by Oct. 20, and a formal signing ceremony will take place after the Islamic Eid Al-Adha holiday at the end of November. Hamas confirmed this schedule. Fatah leader Azzam Al-Ahmad will depart for Egypt at the beginning of the week to hand over the document, which he said was signed by Fatah’s supreme leader, President Mahmoud Abbas.

A Hamas official told the Ma’an news agency that the movement’s leaders have decided to sign the Egyptian proposal.

Ismail Al-Ashkar, a Hamas-affiliated member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) confirmed to Ma’an that Egypt set out a timeline calling on other factions to sign the deal by Oct. 20, with a signing ceremony after Eid Al-Adha.

In a statement, Mr. Al-Ashkar also shed light on the details of the Egyptian plan. He confirmed that the document calls for a Joint National Committee in lieu of a unity government. The committee would include 16 members and would represent Fatah, Hamas, and the other factions, the official said. He said the committee’s role is to implement a national unity agreement, and does not have any “political obligations” outside of this goal.

A U.S. government spokesperson said, in response to the new Fatah-Hamas accord, it would support the next Palestinian government if it follows certain conditions.

“We certainly favor an effective Palestinian government, and we are certainly supportive of a reconciliation process,” State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said in a Washington press briefing.

“If you have a unity government that operates... on the basis of the principles that we’ve laid out, then we will be supportive of it,” Mr. Crowley stressed.

“We’ll be happy to work with whoever is in a Palestinian government that supports the principles,” he added.

Mr. Crowley was referring to the conditions of the international Quartet (the U.S., E.U., UN, and Russia), which stipulate that any Palestinian government must recognize Israel and renounce armed struggle.

That was the basis of the Declaration of Principles of the 1993 Oslo accord, which were hammered out between Israeli and Palestinian Fatah negotiators in Oslo, Norway on August 20, 1993 and signed on September 13, 1993 on the White House lawn by the two Fatah chieftains - Yassir Arafat and his protégé, Mahmoud Abbas, who has run the Palestinian Authority since Arafat died in November 2004.

Arafat and Mr. Abbas signed the agreement in the presence of President Clinton, the late Yitzhak Rabin and then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

However, the American government has consistently ignored the fact that the Fatah never ratified the Declaration of Principles of the 1993 Oslo accord. The Fatah executive committee met in special session on Oct. 6, 1993 to consider ratification of the Declaration of Principles of the 1993 Oslo accord. However, the Fatah would not ratify it, “for lack of a quorum” and has never ratified the Declaration of Principles of the 1993 Oslo accord.

Meanwhile, meeting in special session on April 24, 1996, the Palestine National Council considered cancellation of the PLO covenant, which defines the PLO purpose to destroy the state of Israel. Instead of canceling the PLO covenant, the PNC created a committee to consider changes in the PLO covenant. However, that committee has never met and the PLO covenant remains part and parcel of the Palestinian political reality. Yet, the American government acts as if the PLO cancelled its covenant, despite evidence to the contrary.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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