Saturday, May 30, 2009

Palestinians differ on US promises

Al Jazeera, May 30, 2009

Obama said he shared Abbas’ feelings that “time was of the essence” in the peace process with Israel [AFP]

Palestinian Fatah has said it was “encouraged” by the meeting between Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and his US counterpart in the White House, while Hamas said the encounter would lead to nothing.

“Palestinians are encouraged by the commitment President Obama and his administration have shown to Middle East peace,” Saeb Erakat, a Fatah member and the Palestinians’ top official said on Friday.

Erekat said the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem would make the region more secure and stable.

But, he warned “the peace process lives on borrowed time,” saying it would not survive another round of failed negotiations.

“Israel’s failure to implement its obligations under existing agreements has eroded its credibility, while its continued settlement activities are undermining the very viability of the two state solution,” Erakat said.

Hamas reaction

Hamas, however, called the meeting a continuation of Abbas’ “way of begging” to the US and the “Zionist entity.”

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said the meeting would “accomplish nothing but more pressure on Abbas.”

He said the US administration would fail to take “any action on the ground” to halt Israeli “aggressions” and realise Palestinian rights.

In the meeting on Thursday Obama called for a stop to Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and emphasised the two-state solution.

However, Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, refused to openly endorse the two-state solution during a meeting with Obama on May 18.

He also rejected the US and Palestinian demand for an absolute freeze in settlement activity.

Netanyahu promised not to build new settlements, but vowed to continue construction in existing ones to accommodate for “natural growth.”

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