Saturday, May 30, 2009
Hamas says disappointed with Abbas-Obama meeting
Spokesman for Islamist group says implementation of Road Map for peace plan will turn PA into Israeli armed wing, result in annihilation of resistance groups'; Washington Post says Palestinians will 'wait for Netanyahu coalition to collapse amid US pressure to freeze settlement construction'
Hamas on Friday expressed its disappointment with the results of the recent meeting between US President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington, saying "nothing new came of it."
Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the Islamist group was particularly discouraged by the fact that during the meeting Abbas gave his consent to the implementation of the US-backed Road Map for peace, which according to the spokesman was "rejected by the Palestinian factions."
Barhoum said Abbas is working against the interests of the Palestinians and is "committed to the Road Map, which will turn the Palestinian Authority into an armed wing of Israel that will eventually annihilate the resistance groups and perpetuate the internal Palestinian rift."
The Hamas spokesman added that Obama's commitment to Mideast peace was "futile and insufficient in light of the continuation of Israel's targeted killings, arrests, land appropriation and siege on Gaza."
Barhoum continued to say that Abbas' actions, including "political arrests and the establishment of an illegitimate government in the West Bank" have stifled the reconciliation talks with Hamas, adding that the Palestinian president "cannot be trusted when it comes to the interests of the Palestinians."
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, for his part, said earlier that the Palestinians are encouraged by Obama's vision.
"The Americans and Palestinians have a shared interest…the same vision of peace based on the two-state solution," Erekat said in the wake of Thursday's meeting between Obama and Abbas.
Meanwhile, a Washington Post editorial said Abbas "will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and publicly accept the two-state formula," before he agrees to resume negotiations.
"Abbas and his team fully expect that Netanyahu will never agree to the full settlement freeze - if he did, his center-right coalition would almost certainly collapse. So they plan to sit back and watch while US pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office," claimed Jackson Diehl, the Post's deputy editorial page editor, who then quoted an American official as saying, "It will take a couple of years."
Diehl said that while interviewing Abbas, the PA leader acknowledged that former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank – "though he complained that the Israeli leader refused to give him a copy of the plan."
Diehl said Abbas confirmed that Olmert accepted the principle of the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees – "something no previous Israeli prime minister had done - and offered to resettle thousands in Israel." .