Abbas rejects Israeli proposal for Confederation with Jordan instead of a state

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PALESTINIAN President Mahmud Abbas has rejected Israeli proposals that Palestine be absorbed into Jordan as a confederacy as ‘out of the question’, while Fatah and Hamas oppose negotiations without the meeting of key conditions.

Speaking in an interview with The Jordan Times and Al Rai, Abbas said the Palestinian people totally reject any talk of a substitute homeland in Jordan: ‘A confederation takes place between two independent states, and Palestine is yet to gain its independence.

‘Once that takes place then the peoples of the two independent states have to agree on this confederation through plebiscites.

‘Any way, this issue is out of question!

‘The relationship between the Palestinian and Jordanian people is much deeper than a federation or a confederation,’ he said.

Abbas emphasised the close ties of Palestine and Jordan saying the nation was fully aware of all developments on the Palestinian side and is continuously working to support endeavours to establish a Palestinian state on Palestinian national soil west of the Jordan River.

‘These ties are based on brotherly ties and mutual respect. They respect our state and we respect theirs,’ Abbas said.

Abbas asserted that Jordan is fully involved with all components of the multilateral peace negotiations and should be consulted when any of these issues is raised.

He highlighted that he and Jordanian King Abdallah were jointly committed to the establishment of the state of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders with minor changes that are to be agreed upon with Israel in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

He also dismissed all talk of turning Jordan into a substitute homeland for the Palestinian people, emphasising that the steadfastness of the Palestinians is stronger than anytime ever.

‘There will be no repetitions of the waves of refugees witnessed in 1948 and 1967’ he said.

Despite Washington’s drive for ‘peace’ talks Fatah and Hamas have rejected negotiations until Israel meets key conditions.

Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’th said in a press release: ‘We are waiting for direct negotiations between us and them. Negotiation hinges on the implementation of two steps: ‘The first has to do with requests we have presented to the American side, which we are still waiting for.

‘Once they agree to our requests we will continue on to the second stage of preparatory negotiations in Washington in which we will discuss the basic principles and terms of reference.’

The Fatah official went on to say that, ‘we will not engage in negotiations if we do not receive what we asked for,’ referring to the end of Israel settlement building and the release of prisoners and the affirmation of the Palestinian people’s right of return to their land.

Sha’th described the latest European stance regarding the settlements as extremely positive, saying it was the result of hard efforts on the part of the Palestinian leadership in Europe over the past two years.

He said: ‘The European stance contributed vastly to the resumption of negotiations and had a positive impact on the American position.

‘It will also have an effect on the actual negotiations between us and the Israelis.’

Sha’th said that, ‘by seeing all things extending beyond the 1967 borders as illegal, the European position (meaning that of Britain, Germany, France and other countries) has referred specifically to the borders of the Palestinian state.

Regarding the negotiations with Israel, Fatah Central Committee member and head of the internal Palestinian dialogue delegation Al-Ahmad said that the factions agreed during the last meeting headed by President Mahmud Abbas that there will be, ‘no return to negotiations unless the terms are clear’.

He noted that the clear terms include, ‘a written US Administration invitation to the Palestinians, based on the two-state solution and the 1967 borders.

‘In addition, we asked for US guarantees regarding other issues, most notably settlement activities and Jerusalem.’

Al-Ahmad explained that no agreement on the final version of negotiations resumption has been reached, despite ‘statements by some behind-the-scenes people’.

He said: ‘Until now, the final negotiations resumption version has not materialised, and the statements of the US secretary of state and of Nabil Abu-Rudaynah on this issue are clear.’

He noted that contacts will be resumed in Washington next week and that, ‘if the aforementioned terms are met, then yes, we will resume the negotiations, but we will not succumb to blackmail.’

Al-Ahmad stressed that settlement activity halt, prisoner release, and recognition of the Palestinian state’s borders, ‘are not conditions but the foundations of the peace process, which were proclaimed in the Road Map.’

Fatah has also proposed talks with Hamas to present a common front and end their division.

Al-Ahmad said that 14 August, ‘will be a critical date for our relations with Hamas.’

Al-Ahmad stated in a press release: ‘According to our agreement with Hamas, the division will end on 14 August, and we are committed to this deadline, if Hamas is equally committed.’

He added: ‘We hope things will go well and that Hamas is committed to the deadline, although they are not always committed.

‘Therefore, 14 August is a critical date for our relations with Hamas.’

Al-Ahmad however denied having scheduled meetings with Hamas to discuss the reconciliation.

Regarding Hamas’s refusal to negotiate with the Israeli occupation, Al-Ahmad said: ‘The national reconciliation document is clear, and Hamas has signed it. They said that negotiations are the responsibility of the PLO and of its president.’

Regarding the current situation in Egypt and its impact on the Cairo-sponsored reconciliation talks, Al-Ahmad said: ‘The events that took place in Egypt are an earthquake that will affect the entire region, not only the meeting between HAMAS and Fatah.’

He added: ‘The Egypt events may rectify the situation and restore the Arab Spring, which had been hijacked by NATO and its allies. We will not underestimate anything.’

• Meanwhile, in Gaza in the wake of proposed ‘peace talks’ in Washington, Israeli military aggression continued as several Israeli bulldozers conducted a limited incursion east of the Al-Burayj refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

This was under the command of the new Northern Gazan Territorial Brigade commander Col Yaron Finkelman who took up his post earlier this week at an official ceremony attended by Southern commander, Maj-Gen Sami Turgeman.

About six bulldozers crossed the border and started to raze and comb the land, including citizens’ property.

An eyewitness pointed out that the bulldozers were supported by artillery inside Israel which are currently deployed near Wadi Gaza.

Local citizens observed reconnaissance aircraft fly at low altitudes over the raided neighbourhood.

The occupation forces conduct similar incursions almost daily on the eastern and northern border of the Gaza Strip in a continuous breach of the agreement that was signed with the Palestinians under Egyptian advocacy in Cairo on November 2012.