The ongoing Israeli violations and extra-judicial killings have put the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the anti-occupation groups on opposite sides of the argument over the renewal of the truce with the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), says the Palestine Media Centre (PMC).
Meanwhile the US Administration and Congress are weighing in on both the PNA and the Palestinian anti-occupation factions.
Egypt, which hosted the inter-Palestinian dialogue that led to the Cairo Declaration and the unilaterally-declared truce early this year, has invited all Palestinian groups to Cairo for talks on extending the cease-fire for another year.
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other anti-occupation factions have already announced that the truce will not be renewed when it ends at the year end, citing as reasons Israel’s ongoing assassinations and refusal to release Palestinian detainees in the jails of the IOF.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas called on the Palestinian factions to maintain the cooling-down agreement signed in Cairo nine months ago, despite the Israeli provocations.
Israeli ongoing assassinations of Palestinian anti-occupation activists has invoked retaliations, which the factions say they have the right to, according to the truce agreement as stipulated in the Cairo declaration.
Abbas said last Saturday that retaliations in Gaza Strip and the West Bank were harming the Palestinian people by ‘provoking’ Israeli military responses.
He said: ‘Security must prevail in this land and all armed displays must end.
‘Those who are still doing them are working against their people.’
He added: ‘Our stance on truce is clear, we want security to prevail and citizens to feel secure and free from any threats of Israeli aircraft raids.
‘We have agreed a period of calm, a continuous truce and consequently we have to keep it so that security can be completely re-established and we are not threatened by (Israeli) air strikes, artillery and missiles.
‘We have agreed one truce; therefore, we should continue with it.’
Abbas warned that it is ‘irresponsible to carry out acts of provocation against Israel’ as these will ‘be contrary to the interests’ of the Palestinians.
He said: ‘Anyone who commits acts of provocation against others, especially against Israel, should know that he is acting in an irresponsible way against the interests of his homeland and against the interests of his own people.’
Abbas was referring to both a recent bombing claimed by the Islamic Jihad in the Israeli northern city of Netanya and a recent statement by Hamas’ leader Khaled Misha’al.
Meanwhile the United States continued to pressure Abbas politically as Israel is pressuring him militarily.
Visiting US Under Secretary of State David Welch urged Abbas to take firm action against armed factions when they met at the weekend.
The US envoy said: ‘In every responsible country in the world, the only authority to use force belongs to the government.
‘This is our expectation of what would happen with the Palestinian Authority; there should be no militias, there should be no terrorist organisations.’
Welch said achieving the aim of law and order in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) would bring greater security and confidence to Israelis and to the international community.
Last Friday Hamas politbureau chief-in-exile Misha’al rejected the PNA position saying that a nine-month truce with Israel was over.
‘I say it loudly, we will not enter a new truce and our people are preparing for a new round of conflict,’ Misha’al told a Palestinian rally in the Syrian capital Damascus.
He cited the Israeli ‘political stagnation’ as one reason.
He added: ‘There is no room for truce. I say to our brothers in the (Palestinian National) Authority that we are witnessing political stagnation . . . There’s no point in negotiating, because the (Israeli) policy of procrastinating over applying agreements pushes us not to renew the truce.’
He cited the Israeli siege of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Palestinian detainees as two more reasons for not renewing the truce.
‘We will not enter a new truce while our people are surrounded and are preparing for a new round of conflict.
‘We have had enough of the truce while our prisoners are still held,’ he told an audience marking the 38th anniversary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) at the al-Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp.
Misha’al said that Israel has failed to honour the truce’s provision on prisoner releases and said the number of detainees has increased to 9,000.
Over 20 Hamas members were arrested last Thursday, including the mayor of Beit Liqiya, a town near Ramallah in the West Bank.
The IOF detention spree rounded up more than 50 suspected activists in the West Bank during the past week, including Jihad and PFLP suspected members.
PFLP spokesman and senior official Maher al-Taher agreed with Misha’al that the Cairo truce had ‘no more sense, given the continued policies of terrorism and liquidation carried out by Israel’.
Al-Taher said: ‘Resistance against the Israeli occupation must continue as it is a real guarantee for the right of return.’
Last Saturday the Islamic Jihad also joined Hamas and PFLP in refusing to renew the truce.
In an interview with Hezbollah’s Al Manar Television, Jihad’s leader Ramadan Shallah said that Israel had not kept its side of the informal truce.
‘We do not see that the results we obtained from the truce may encourage us to renew it for a single day at the end of this year,’ he said.
Shallah called for a review of the truce agreement with the PNA.
He said: ‘Any discussion about a renewal of this truce needs a review of what we obtained from it.
‘The Zionist enemy not only failed to abide by a halt to the aggression or release the (Palestinian) prisoners, but it has also stepped up the aggression with more assassinations and more arrests (of Islamic Jihad activists).
‘We have abided by the truce.
‘But the Israeli enemy has announced from the beginning that Islamic Jihad was outside this truce and has targeted our Mujahideen and fighters and all our infrastructure.
‘When faced with such a situation, our natural response will have to be resistance and self-defence. Otherwise, the truce will become a surrender.’
Shallah concluded: ‘The (Israeli) enemy has dealt one fatal strike after the other to this truce.
Therefore, it has no value. The truce is finished.’
A PNA official spokesman said last Saturday that Misha’al’s comments ‘are irresponsible and violate the national consensus.’
The comments were aimed at ‘sabotaging the (Palestinian legislative) elections’ planned for January 25, the spokesman said, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.
The inter-Palestinian argument over renewing the truce comes on the backdrop of a mounting Israeli and US crackdown on the Palestinian armed resistance campaign.
US State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli last Friday said Hamas pursues a ‘bankrupt ideology’, and that the PNA should pursue Hamas to prevent it from carrying out its counterproductive policies.
‘The issue is the capability and belief that violence against innocent civilians is a legitimate form of political struggle, and that is a bankrupt ideology,’ Ereli said.
He told reporters that the PNA ‘needs to take concrete action to prevent groups like Hamas or groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad or others from pursuing its dangerous and counterproductive policies.’
Meanwhile, four members of the US House of Representatives House have drafted Resolution 575, which will probably pass before the Christmas recess.
It states that Hamas and other ‘terrorist groups’ should not be allowed to participate in the upcoming Palestinian elections, thus adopting an Israeli official demand.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby, supports the resolution.