Abbas Suspends Contact With Israel

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Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas yesterday suspended the ‘peace negotiations’ and contacts with Israel until the Israeli ‘criminal aggression’ on Gaza stops.

An emergency meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) yesterday endorsed Abbas’s decision and urged the UN Security Council to provide international protection for the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Jerusalem.

The PLO condemned the ‘declared intentions’ of the Israeli occupation’s leaders to turn the Gaza Strip into a ‘holocaust’, reminiscent of the Nazi crimes.

In a statement, the PLO Executive Committee called on the ‘UN Security Council and all international bodies to provide international protection for the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the rest of the Palestinian homeland in the West Bank and Jerusalem as a step towards empowering the Palestinian people to obtain their freedom and end the occupation from all their land to the borders of June 4, 1967.’

‘International protection’ through securing ‘international forces under the flag of the United Nations has become a demand that cannot be postponed to put an end for good to the tragedies, massacres and suffering’ of the Palestinian people, the statement said.

It cited the ongoing ‘bloody massacre’ which Israeli forces are committing in the Gaza Strip, ‘indiscriminately targeting children, women and the elderly.’

The PLO Executive Committee said its support for Abbas’s decision to suspend the negotiations and contacts with the Israeli side is ‘evidence of our determination to confront the (Israeli) aggression with all means and forms which serve our national goals.’

The PLO executive called on the Palestinian masses inside the homeland and in the Diaspora to close ranks in solidarity with ‘our people in the Gaza Strip’ against the Israeli ‘aggression, crimes and collective massacres’, stressing that the current circumstances require the national interest be put above all other considerations.

Similarly, the PLO called on all sisterly and friendly forces and political parties in the Arab World and at the international level to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people to immediately stop Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians, which are ‘turning the Gaza Strip into a scorched land.’

Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza continued to rise, with five people killed on Sunday morning in the northern Gaza Strip.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli aircraft attacked the office of the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in Gaza City early on Sunday morning.

The number of victims of the ‘Israeli holocaust’ since Saturday has reached 74 killed with 200 injured, some seriously.

Ninety-five people have died since Israel began military operations in the Gaza Strip last Wednesday.

Saturday proved to be the bloodiest day of the Israeli military operation, dubbed ‘Operation Hot Winter’, with 67 people killed on one day as Israeli tanks, backed up by helicopters, pushed into the town and refugee camp of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, pounding the area throughout the day.

• Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak yesterday accepted the opinions of Israeli military commanders to delay any wide-scale military operation against the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials said.

Barak added: ‘However, we are stepping up the pace and putting pressure on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.’