Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fatah: We need strong Egypt

Meanwhile Palestinians say elections to be held by Sept. in apparent reaction to Egypt protests

Elior Levy
02.12.11 Israel News

Nabil Shaath, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, congratulated the Egyptian people and said that a younger, democratic Egypt would offer more support for the Palestinians.

Meanwhile a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinians will hold presidential and legislative elections by September, an apparent response to the popular protests that drove Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down late Friday. "A strong Egypt would have a greater capability to support us now and in the future," the senior Palestinian official said Saturday.

"We respect the Egyptian nation's desire for democracy, freedom and unity. We are proud of our Egyptian brothers for not resorting to violence and achieving their goals with an intifada of peace," he said.

Shaath expressed hope that Egypt would continue to be a leader in the Arab world following Mubarak's resignation.

"At this stage, when the Palestinians are in the midst of a struggle for their independence and freedom – in the face of Israeli obstinacy – they need Egypt to stand by them and support them," he said.

The Hamas government in Gaza called for whichever government is established in Cairo to lift the siege on the Strip and open the Rafah crossing to Palestinian traffic.

It also rejected the announcement of the upcoming Palestinian elections. "Hamas will not take part in this election. We will not give it legitimacy. And we will not recognize the results," said spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Erekat resigns over leaks

Also Saturday, Abbas' chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, announced his resignation. The move came in response to damaging leaks by pan-Arab satellite television station al-Jazeera that detailed some of the inner workings of previous peace negotiations.

Erekat told The Associated Press that an investigation determined that internal documents obtained by Al-Jazeera were leaked by someone from his office. "If there was any security failure in my office, then I am responsible. For that, I have resigned," he said.

The documents showed that during peace negotiations with Israel in 2008, the Palestinians were prepared to make significant concessions on final borders with Israel and on the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees with claims to lost properties in what is now Israel.

AP contributed to this report

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