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Practical arrangements for Abbas visit to Gaza
Published Friday 18/03/2011 (updated) 19/03/2011 20:57
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RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday instructed Civil Affairs chairman Hussein Al-Sheikh to make logistical arrangements for his visit to Gaza as quickly as possible.

Abbas also asked Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh to make arrangements to receive him at Erez border crossing in the coming days.

The president said Wednesday that he was ready to hold unity talks with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the midst of massive youth protests across the West Bank and Gaza demanding an end to the division.

Haniyeh called for emergency talks with Fatah as security forces violently cracked down on protests in the Gaza Strip. Hamas welcomed Abbas' acceptance of the invitation.

A group of independent leaders in Gaza said Thursday that preparations were already underway to receive the president.

Coalition leader Yasser Al-Wadieh praised Abbas and Haniyeh for their "courageous initiative."

UN supports initiative; Netanyahu slams efforts

UN envoy Robert Serry threw his support behind the renewed reconciliation efforts, saying that unity was "overdue and vital for Palestinian legitimate aspirations."

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the unity efforts.

In a CNN interview broadcast Thursday, Netanyahu compared Hamas to Al-Qeada and said Palestinian reconciliation would be the end pf the peace process.

Sources in Netanyahu's office told the Israeli daily Haaretz that the prime minister would appeal to US and European leaders to thwart reconciliation efforts.

The Israeli government officials did not say whether Israel would respond to Palestinian unity with sanctions or by ceasing security cooperation with the PA. They told Haaretz that Netanyahu's efforts would focus on diplomacy for now.

The rivalry between Hamas and Fatah dates back to the early 1990s, and led to a national split in 2007 when the Islamist movement kicked their secular rivals out of Gaza after days of bloody street battles.

Since then, Abbas has not set foot in Gaza, which has been effectively cut off from the West Bank and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority which controls it.

The division has badly damaged the Palestinian national movement to end Israel's occupation.
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1 ) dima / palestine
18/03/2011 14:03
"Netanyahu compared Hamas to Al-Qeada and said Palestinian reconciliation would be the end of the peace process." WHAT PEACE PROCESS EXACTLY NATANYAHU!?????

2 ) Nour / One-State
18/03/2011 15:00
Benjamen Millikowksy, what "peace process" are you talking about? Do you mean the usurping process, whereby Palestinians lost their land and dignity?

3 ) Tobias / US
18/03/2011 15:50

UNITY WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE,
unless one group changes it's position, regarding
Jihad (holy war) to destroy the Jewish state !!

The Pals literally can NOT afford for the PLO to overtly return to Jihad,
since being considered terrorists would end all western financial aid,
and
Hamas' Islamic Extremism probably prevents it from ending the Jihad,
so again UNITY WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE !!


4 ) Fred / USA
18/03/2011 16:18
It is high time for Palestinian unity. This shameful chapter in the history of the just struggle must end.

As for Netanyahu - here we again - using any pretext possible to thwart peace. Stop meddling in internal Palestinian affairs! And, wake up - the US and EU are on board for Palestinian unity, having already jointly stressed the importance of it in several Quartet statements. He should be told to stop wasting everyone's time and energy. Get real about peace or get out Bibi!

5 ) Colin Wright / USA
18/03/2011 18:10
Do tell. I distinctly recall that when the Palestinians were divided, no progress was possible because 'there was no negotiating partner.' Now -- apparently -- unity will prove to be a bar to progress. Let me summarize. Regardless of the situation, Israel will always find peace to be impossible.

6 ) Outsider / EU
18/03/2011 19:48
Oooh. I feel another hissy fit is coming.

7 ) Hawa Mayet / South Africa
18/03/2011 20:49
Nothing is impossible. The Middle East peoples want democracy and progress. My wish is for the unity talks to succeed. Hamas,let the people's voices be heard. Do not suppress protests.Unity will lead to the end of Israeli interference.

8 ) izzy / usa
18/03/2011 22:28
COLIN- the reason why there is no peace with a unity government is cause how can israel deal with hamas, when hamas only wants the destruction of israel?
Answer me that question please?

9 ) PFLP / Jordan
18/03/2011 23:13
i am all for unity... but the fact remains Abbas will still go down in history as a traitor to the Palestinians

10 ) Israel bad news for USA / USA
19/03/2011 00:30
The policies of Israeli governments over the past 60 years are diametrically opposed to the strategic national interests of the United States.

It is the interest of the United States to support local democracy, one-person-one-vote, an end to apartheid - that is the best way for the U.S. to maintain its leadership role in west and central Asia and in north Africa.

China and Russia are suppression Muslims, the U.S. strategic interest is to be on the side of Muslims living under apartheid.

11 ) Brett / Canada
19/03/2011 14:18
For anyone who knows their history, British Mandate Palestine was divided. One part (less then half) was the Jewish state of Israel. The other, Jordan. The Arab population inside Israel was told "You can move or stay. If you stay, you can not fight them." So, many left for the second state. And the ones who stay? They are up in arms, like today, 49 mortar shells launched into the Negev. It is near impossible to make peace with a group that has your unilateral eradication in its constitution...
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