Skip to comments.Fatah Calls on Hamas to Renounce Violence
Posted on 01/22/2006 10:11:23 AM PST by NormsRevenge
JERUSALEM - Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party will only form a coalition government with parties willing to negotiate with Israel and will not ask Hamas militants to join if they do not renounce violence, a top official said Sunday.
However, Fatah's top candidate, jailed Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti, said Sunday that Fatah and Hamas "are heading toward being partners in the field, and in parliament."
Barghouti, interviewed in an Israeli prison by the Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera, did not say what partnership he envisioned.
Recent polls indicate that Fatah and Hamas are running neck-and-neck ahead of Wednesday's parliament vote. But Information Minister Nabil Shaath said he is confident Fatah will win enough of the 132 seats to form a government on its own. It would then offer to share power with parties that accept the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan and recognize Israel.
Hamas opposes the existence of Israel and has killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks.
"After the election, I think we will establish a government in coalition with the leftist and the independent lists," Shaath said. "With these people, we can agree on a joint program that includes negotiations with Israel, the implementation of the 'road map' and a cease-fire (with Israel)."
"With Hamas, it will be very difficult to reach a joint program," Shaath added. "We can't form a coalition with Hamas if it doesn't agree to this program."
Although known best for its suicide bombings, Hamas has been able to tap a strong grass-roots base in its first run for the legislature, capitalizing on an image of incorruptibility and decades of large-scale health, education and social projects.
Fatah, meanwhile, has been unable to shed its image of corruption or take control of lawless West Bank and Gaza Strip streets.
With Palestinian elections just three days away, Israel, the United States and the European Union were scrambling Sunday to figure out what to do if Hamas militants end up dominating the Palestinian parliament.
Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and military and intelligence chiefs Sunday to discuss Israel's response to a possible Hamas victory.
"What Israel has to do is the big question," lawmaker Tzahi Hanegbi said before the meeting. "We have to think hard and explore all the options."
Israeli officials said it would take several weeks after the election to see what Hamas and Abbas do and to set policy accordingly.
Abbas has said he hopes Hamas would tame its positions once it formally joins the political system. The assumption is that Hamas would be unwilling to risk legitimacy conferred by the election process by resuming attacks.
But Israel worries that bringing Hamas into the Palestinian government would only elevate radicals.
Election results that boost Hamas' standing could put U.S. policy in a bind. The Bush administration classifies Hamas as a terrorist group, and aid would be in question if Hamas was part of the Palestinian government.
"Nothing has changed in our attitude toward Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization," said Stewart Tuttle, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv. "As a matter of policy, we don't deal with Hamas ... If Hamas members win seats ... we are not going to deal with those individuals."
The U.S. Agency for International Development has used part of a special $2 million budget to promote democratic parties in the race, said a U.S. Consulate spokeswoman in Jerusalem, Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm.
"Part of it is being used to work with the Palestinian Authority and the president's office on improving the democratic institutions," Schweitzer-Bluhm said.
She denied that the money used in part to clean streets, distribute free food and water to Palestinians at border crossings and to help fund a youth soccer tournament was used to boost Fatah's prospects against Hamas.
Washington has not objected to militants appearing on the ballot because that would conflict with U.S. aims of promoting democracy in the Mideast. And behind the scenes, U.S. officials are considering the possibility of distinguishing between Hamas legislators tied to violence and those who are not a position Israel rejects.
European diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because no policy has been set, said they would only decide what to do after election results are in. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has warned that the EU could halt tens of millions of dollars of aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas wins the elections and fails to renounce violence.
Meanwhile, Hamas itself has not made it clear whether it would form or even join a Palestinian government because doing so could force it to deal with Israel and the West.
A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, said Sunday that the group would decide after the election.
"All options are open," Abu Zuhri said.
Whatever the results, he said, Hamas is "committed to resistance."
Election posters showing Hamas' No. 1 candidate, Ismail Haniyeh hang outside a polling station during advanced voting in parliamentary elections in the West Bank city of Nablus, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2006. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party will only form a coalition with parties willing to negotiate with Israel, the Palestinian information minister said Sunday, suggesting the Islamic militant Hamas would not be part of the next government. Recent polls indicate that Fatah and Hamas are running neck-and-neck ahead of Wednesday's parliament vote. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
I was just waiting for a journalism graduate to make this so clear........
An elderly Palestinian man chants anti-Israeli slogans during a campaign rally organised by the Hamas movement for the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections in Khan Younis refugee camp south of Gaza January 22, 2006. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
The time for words are passed. Hamas and Hezbollah need to stop the atacks to be taken seriously by anybody rational - and even then it would be hard to blame the Israelis for not trusting them.
I hope Hamas wins a great deal of seats. Then when the Parliament first meets, it will be an outstanding target for an Israeli Fighter Jet. No more Hamas running in elections.
In related news, pot calls on kettle to renounce black.
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