Aqaba summit: Bush hails; Hamas, Islamic Jihad slam Abu Mazen speech
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas said Wednesday it would "stand by the Palestinian people and by the gun," following a three-way US, Israeli and Palestinian summit in Aqaba, Jordan.
Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas renounced at the end of the talks all "terrorism" against Israel. But, Hamas and Islamic Jihad said Abbas failed to acknowledge the suffering of his people, or to even mention key Palestinian issues, such as the demand for the right of Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948 and their descendants to return to their former homes.
"Mr. Abbas today said to the world that we are the aggressors and the Israelis are the victims," said senior Hamas official Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi. "As Palestinians, we will continue our resistance until achieving our goals. Believe me, we will not give up one centimeter of Palestine," he said. "We won't allow anyone to give up a parcel of our land," Rantisi told AFP.
Rantisi added that Hamas had still not decided whether to agree to a cease-fire with Abbas, who urged at the summit for an end to the "armed intifada." "We are still discussing it," Rantisi said. "There is no chance for us to give up our land."
Abdullah Shami, leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, said Abbas in his speech "offered a free service to the enemy by helping them in targeting the Palestinian resistance and stopping our legitimate right to fight the occupation."
"The summit represented only the Israeli perspective and Israeli concerns," Shami said. "He [Abbas] rejected terrorism and violence against Israelis and got nothing in return from the Israelis."
Saeb Erekat, a former Palestinian minister and a close aide to Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, said the summit failed because Bush did not put in place a timeframe for implementing the road map.
"President Bush is as high [an official] as the Palestinians and Israelis are going to get, and if he comes and leaves without introducing... the time lines, the monitors, to begin the immediate implementation of the obligations of both sides, who shall come to the region...in order to do that?" Erekat said.
Erekat also criticized Sharon for failing to declare his support for a sovereign, independent Palestinian state as the Palestinians had demanded or to call for an end to violence against Palestinians.
Meanwhile, US President Bush expressed satisfaction with the summit in Jordan. "Some amazing things were said," he conveyed.
Bush spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One taking him to Qatar. The US leader noted Ariel Sharon committed himself in principle to creation of a Palestinian state. And Abbas spoke of the "suffering of the Jewish people."
Bush said he's the "master of low expectations" -- but even by that standard it's a "good beginning." And he added he plans to keep on top of things. In the meeting, he said he used the term "ride herd" -- but doesn't know if the others understood, AP reported. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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