CAIRO, May 4, 2011 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Misha’al Wednesday announced end to the division that plagued the Palestinian cause for four years.
Speaking at the reconciliation ceremonies which kicked off in Cairo Wednesday afternoon following a brief delay, Abbas said that “after four dark years (of division) which have caused grave harm to our national interest, we meet to stress as one people and with one voice an end to the division, and to uniting the country, the people and the institutions.”
The ceremony, attended by all Palestinian factions, who had already signed the reconciliation agreement the night before, was attended by senior Egyptian officials, including the foreign minister and the head of the intelligence.
Abbas told the meeting that he was going in September to the United Nations to ask for recognition of the Palestinian state. However, he said, while that will happen on the ninth month, but if Israel continues to blackmail the Palestinians, he may go much earlier than that.
“If the blackmail continues,” he said, “it may be the fifth or sixth month, and not the ninth month. We will not accept blackmail.”
Abbas was referring to an Israeli decision to withhold funds it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority as a result of the reconciliation agreement.
He said while Israel first said it cannot make peace with divided Palestinians, it now says it cannot make peace with united Palestinians.
“We heard screams and threats by Israeli officials,” he said. “We had not and will not ask anyone permission to practice an internal Palestinian matter.”
“We did not violate Israeli law. We did not attack anyone. Yet we are being punished because we want to be reunited,” he said.
Abbas said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to choose between peace and settlements.
He reiterated his position of abiding by international law and resolutions as well as the signed agreements which call for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.
He also said the Palestinian people will continue with their struggle until they regain their national rights, including refugee rights based on international resolutions, including UN resolution 194 of 1948.
He said the national rights are not up for bargain and that “we reject any interim or partial solutions, particularly a provisional state with temporary borders.”
Abbas said he has denounced “terrorism in all its forms,” adding that “we will not accept pluralism of the security forces, only one authority, one weapon and one political authority.”
He said the Palestinian peaceful struggle had won international support.
Abbas asked the Palestinian factions to “have new arrangement with the people.” He said “the factions should realize that they have understood the lesson.”
He said the new government “will see the light soon,” adding that “we have fixed a date for the elections, and since I decide when elections will be held, I said three months is enough time or may be six, but they told me they agreed on one year. We will have elections within a year for the legislative council, the Palestinian National Council and the president.”
“The mission is not over yet,” he said.”It is just starting. Many do not want us to succeed and want us to stay divided. But we have to continue on this path until the end. We will certainly have difficulty and differences, but … we are capable of overcoming all these loopholes,” he said.
Hamas leader Khaled Misha’al, who spoke briefly as requested after Abbas, said that “the dark page of division is now behind us.”
He said, “I declared in the name of Hamas that we are ready to pay any price to achieve unity and to turn the terms (of the agreement) into facts on the ground.”
Misha’al said that Hamas wants to “get out of this difficult moment as soon as possible so that we will be free to take care of our national project.”
He said, “We want one leadership, one reference, one authority and one institution. We are one people with one cause.”
Misha’al said “we want a Palestinian state In the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as its capital, and not one Israeli in it.”
He said that Hamas “is ready to talk and reach an understanding until we reach a common political viewpoint for resistance and diplomatic activity. Let us draw a new strategy that would force Netanyahu to withdraw from our land and force the international community to support our right.”