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News number: 8711071054

14:17 | 2009-01-26


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EU for Palestinian Unity with Abbas in Charge

TEHRAN (FNA)- The EU urged Palestinian factions to unite under the authority of Fatah Leader Mahmoud Abbas, whose term as Palestinian Authority Chief has expired.

"We believe that Palestinian reconciliation behind Mahmoud Abbas is fundamental to progress," Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told reporters after an EU meeting with representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Norway, and the Fatah faction.

"The humanitarian concerns are naturally a priority but the political process must follow close behind… It is the parties themselves who need to genuinely want peace and to be prepared to make the concessions necessary to get there," said Schwarzenberg, whose country currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency.

The British, Swiss, and Egyptian foreign ministers also pointed to the importance of reconciliation between Palestinian factions.

"The reunification of the Palestinian people with a single voice to speak to them, to speak for the West Bank and for Gaza is absolutely essential," press tv quoted British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as saying.

"It's time for the Palestinians to talk to each other… If we can't overcome the divisions in Palestinian society, it will be very difficult to move forward both with Gaza and the peace process," said Miliband's Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Abul Gheit also said that a Palestinian consensus government must be formed so that it 'could be capable of using the funds' pledged at next month's Gaza donor's reconstruction conference, implying that the aid will not be given to Hamas.

Based on various leaks, such as a report by the British International Institute for Strategic Studies, the US supplied $59 million worth of guns, ammunition and training to Palestinian Fatah activists to take on Hamas in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, while encouraging its Arab allies to do the same.

According to Vanity Fair, in 2006 Washington initiated a 'covert initiative, approved by former US president George W. Bush and implemented by his secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war.'

Prior to Israel's deadly 23-day offensive in Gaza the democratically elected government of Hamas repeatedly called for reconciliatory talks with the rival faction Fatah, which is lead by Mahmoud Abbas.

The two factions fell out in June 2007 when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in an effort to prevent a coup against its elected government. In the West Bank, Abbas took control, dismissing the Hamas government and replacing it with the appointed administration of Salam Fayyad, the press tv report said.

Hamas rejected the move and insisted that Haniyah remained the prime minister arguing that according to the constitution of the Palestinian National Authority if the president dissolves an elected government he must hold elections within a month for the next administration to gain legitimacy, which Abbas never did.

When Mahmoud Abbas' term ended on January 8, amid Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, Hams announced that it no longer recognized him as the Palestinian Authority Chief.

The movement, however, announced that it would not assert the parliament's Deputy Speaker Ahmed Bahar's right to the presidency, as Gaza was under fire.

According to Palestinian law, the parliament speaker succeeds to the presidency when the president's term ends and no new elections are held. In the absence of the speaker the position goes to his deputy. The current Palestinian Parliament Speaker Abdel Aziz Dweik is imprisoned in Israeli jails.

Both Dweik and Bahar are Hamas members.

EU support for Palestinian reconciliation, Mahmoud Abbas' authority and Arab-Israeli peace talks comes at a time when Hamas has called Fatah to put an immediate end to its negotiations with Israel in protest to the massacre of 1300 Palestinians in the Gaza strip.