Palestinian Authority struggles to come to grips with events

EU Foriegn Ministers urging a return to negotiations

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22 Feb 2011
Palestinian Authority struggles to come to grips with events

Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Nabil Shaath declared on Tuesday that the current unrest in the Arab world would strengthen the Palestinian national cause, even as other PA officials quietly worried that the loss of support from the Mubarak regime would have the opposite effect.

"The weakness of the Arab position was one of the reasons behind the imbalance between Palestine and Israel," Shaath said. "Going to any negotiations at this phase would be tantamount to self-deception. At this stage, the Palestinians should resort to a popular struggle against Israeli occupation."

He added his hope that the Palestinians would learn a lesson from the unrest in the Arab world and heal the rifts which have grown between followers of the secular Fatah party which dominates the PA in the West Bank and the Islamist terror militia Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.

"The revolution in the Arab world will help us achieve national unity, and we will continue to urge Hamas [to act to this end] again and again," he said.

"For the next few months, Egypt won't be playing any role and the new leadership there will be busy with internal affairs," agreed another official. "Our people must draw the conclusions from what happened in Egypt and move toward ending divisions in the Palestinian arena."

The Palestinian Maan news agency reported on Monday that Hamas leaders appeared open to the idea but they also reject the authority of the current PA leadership to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians living in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman left Sunday for Brussels to attend a meeting with EU foreign ministers under the auspices of the EU-Israel Association Council. An official statement from the EU on Tuesday declared that it is vital to immediately resume the stalled peace process with the Palestinians because of the growing instability in the Middle East. Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, whose country currently chairs the EU, told Lieberman that the Israeli-Palestinian talks "remain the core issue."


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