Hamas won't rule out talks with Israel; Abbas resignation a ”possibility”

Published January 17th, 2006 - 08:03 GMT

Hamas leader Sheikh Mohammad Abu Tir revealed that he would not rule out negotiations with Israel in the future after the group's significant tactical shift of participating in parliamentary elections.


Referring to ongoing, albeit sporadic, talks between Israel and the ruling Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Tir said,  "We'll negotiate [with Israel] better than the others, who negotiated for 10 years and achieved nothing," he said.


Abu Tir is number two on the Hamas slate for upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections slated for January 25.


"We will not give Israel the justification and the legitimacy to occupy our lands," he told Haaretz.


"But "we are not saying 'never.' The question of negotiations will be presented to the new Parliament and, as with every issue, when we reach the Parliament it will be discussed and decided in a rational manner."


Hamas has drawn widespread support amongst Palestinians in polls, raising concerns of both Israel and the United States as a result of the group's rejection of the right of Israel to exist.


Abu Tir was recently freed from an Israeli prison after spending almost three decades in detention, reported AFP.


PA forces told to vote for Fatah


Palestinian security forces in the West Bank reportedly received letters from the Palestinian Authority's West Bank security chief instructing them to vote for Fatah candidates in the upcoming elections.


Some policemen had complained, claiming that their commanders threatened to dismiss them if they did not follow the orders, the Jerusalem post reported.


Michael Murphy, country director of the National Democratic Institute, stated, "We consider this a serious violation."


The Central Elections Commission, which reportedly received a copy of the letter two weeks ago, were reportedly infuriated.


"We immediately forwarded it to [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas]," said CEC chairman Ammar Dweik. "He communicated to the interior minister [Nasser Yousef] that this is illegal and that the security forces should be encouraged to vote but not told for whom."


Meanwhile, Abbas revealed on Sunday that he had not ruled out the possibility of resigning as leader of the Palestinian Authority.


“If my political plan does not succeed, I will not hold on to my seat,” he said. During a conversation with the Palestinian news network.


He also added that he did not intend to run for an additional term as PA leader.



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