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Abbas Moves on PLO Constitution Amendments to Include Hamas and Islamic Jihad

Abbas Moves on PLO Constitution Amendments to Include Hamas and Islamic Jihad

Published today (updated) 28/03/2011 16:30 RAMALLAH (Ma'an) --

President Mahmoud Abbas asked the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization to convene the body's Constitution Committee, government news agency WAFA reported.

He advised the committee that it should draw up amendments to the PLO charter by the end of September.

The committee was first convened in 2005, after unity talks between 13 Palestinian factions in Cairo led to an agreement which paved the way for legislative elections in 2006.

Several elements of the agreement were never enforced, however, including the amendment of the PLO constitution and integration of Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the PLO framework.

The council has not met since 2006.

In a statement Monday, Abbas said the council should finalize its work by September 31, when Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's state-building project is scheduled to be completed.

The president urged the committee to convene "as soon as possible," either in Amman or in Cairo.

The committee, according to the original agreement, included the president of the National Council, the members of the PLO's Executive Committee, the secretary-generals of all Palestinian factions and independent national personalities.

In 2007, the prisoners' document called on Palestinian factions to "work quickly on achieving what has been agreed upon in Cairo in March 2005 pertaining to the development and activation of the PLO and the joining of Hamas and Islamic Jihad Movements to the PLO which is the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people wherever they are located."

Abbas Meets Hamas Leaders In The West Bank

Sunday March 27, 2011 00:12 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, met on Saturday with Hamas representatives in the West Bank and told them he plans to head to Gaza in an attempt to end internal rifts and to form an interim unity government run by independent figures.

During the meeting, Abbas stated that there can be no peace with Israel without establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Hamas leaders who met Abbas are Dr. Aziz Duwaik, Nasseruddeen Al-Sha'er, Samir Abu Aisha, Abdul Rahman Zeidan, Ayman Daraghma, Mohammad Abu Teir and Wasfi Qabha.

He also stated that the Palestinians need to achieve unity and reconciliation before they can hold national and presidential elections.

Ten days ago, Abbas presented an initiative offering to head to the Gaza Strip to hold talks with Hamas leaders in order to boost unity efforts. and to form a new interim government.

During his Saturday meeting with Hamas representatives in the West Bank, Abbas presented details regarding his plan that basically states that the interim government will include technocrats and national figures who will start preparing for new legislative and presidential elections, in addition to preparing for new elections for the Palestinian National Council.

Abbas stated that the current changes in the region and the rising challenges at home, mainly the Israeli threats to launch a new offensive against Gaza, push the Palestinians to unite, and stressed on the importance of maintaining truce with Israel.

The Maan News Agency interviewed former Minister of Detainees, Dr. Wasfi Qabha, one of the Hamas leaders who met Abbas Saturday, who stated that Abbas clarified some main issues and confirmed that national talks will not start from scratch, but will pick up from the point they stopped and will be based on what have been agreed upon during previous unity talks in Cairo.

Qabha stated that he believes that Hamas will positively respond to Abbas, especially since the meeting created a positive impression while several Hamas leaders welcomed Abbas’ initiative to visit Gaza for the first time since bloody clashes took place between Hamas and Fateh gunmen in 2007.

During the meeting with Abbas, Palestinian Legislative Council head, Dr. Aziz Duwaik, handed the president a letter which he described as a letter that does not represent Hamas’ Political Bureau, but represents the Palestinian people.

Dr. Duwaik added that the letter also includes a number of issues that, if approved, could lead to reconciliation.

The two-hour meeting also stressed on the importance of stopping political arrests, political profiling, and other issues that jeopardize trust between different factions.

Dr. Duwaik also welcomed the initiative of Abbas but stated that Hamas will officially announce its response in the coming few days.

Head of the Fat'h parliamentary bloc, Azzam Al Ahmad, also described the meeting as positive, adding that, so far, Hamas did not conduct any practical measures to facilitate the visit.

Al Ahmad added that he hopes all obstacles will be removed, confirming that practical results cannot be achieved without ensuring that Abbas makes it into the Gaza Strip.

He further stated that despite some negative statements made by a number of Hamas leaders regarding the initiative of Abbas, Fat'h will conduct all needed efforts to create a positive atmosphere to end internal divisions and achieve reconciliation.

In related news, Hamas stated Saturday that resistance factions in the Gaza Strip agreed to halt the firing of homemade shells into adjacent Israeli areas should Israel stop it attacks against the coastal region.

Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, Ismail Radwan, stated following a meeting with leaders of several factions in Gaza that resistance groups are committed to restoring calm across the border as long as Israel is committed to restoring the de-facto ceasefire.

Palestinian Prime Minister Meets US Defense Secretary; Demands Palestinian State By September

Saturday March 26, 2011 11:32 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority led by the Fat'h party, met on Friday with Robert Gates, the US Secretary of State, who was visiting Ramallah after a visit with the Israeli Prime Minister earlier on Friday.

During the meeting, the Palestinian Prime Minister set a deadline of September for the implementation of a plan laid out two years ago that would establish a provisional Palestinian state, and begin a pull-out of Israeli troops and settlers from the occupied Palestinian Territories.

The Palestinian Mission in the US issued a statement saying, “The recent cycle of violence in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem indicates the urgent need to end the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian people.”

The Mission, which represents the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, the higher Palestinian entity which  supervises the Palestinian Authority, urged US President Barack Obama to unequivocally condemn violence by both Palestinians and Israelis.

The US President recently made statements condemning the murder of a settler family in Itamar settlement, allegedly by a Palestinian; the firing of homemade shells by Palestinian resistance fighters that lightly injured two Israelis, and a bomb in Jerusalem allegedly planted by a Palestinian that killed one Israeli woman. But Obama did not mention the killing of eight Palestinians, including three children, by an Israeli missile, which also took place over the last week.

Salam Fayyad told the US Defense Secretary in their meeting that the Israeli incursions, which occur on a daily basis into Palestinian villages and cities, and the continual confiscation of Palestinian land for Israel's colonial settlement expansion, both hinder peace efforts and make negotiation impossible.

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